ASSEMBLY TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND UTILITIES COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

ASSEMBLY, No. 2459

 

with committee amendments

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:  MARCH 13, 2014

 

      The Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee reports favorably and with committee amendments Assembly Bill No. 2459.

      As amended and reported, this bill establishes a one-year moratorium on the replacement of copper-based landline telephone (landline) service with wireless service by a local exchange telecommunications company (company).

      Under the bill, a company may replace landline service with wireless service for any customer who, after receiving appropriate notice and information, consents in writing to the replacement on forms prepared by the Board of Public Utilities (board), or for any customer who requests without solicitation that the company replace the customer’s landline service with wireless service, provided that the customer may return to landline service, or other comparable service as determined by the board, with no penalty or termination fee imposed by the company.  In addition, the board, during a declared state of emergency, may authorize a company to replace landline service with wireless service.

      Under the bill, a company may not replace the landline service for a public safety agency with wireless service, unless the public safety agency, after receiving appropriate notice and information, consents in writing to the replacement on forms prepared by the board, or unless the public safety agency requests without solicitation that the company replace the public safety agency’s landline service with wireless service, provided that the public safety agency may return to landline service, or other comparable service as determined by the board, with no penalty or termination fee imposed by the company.

      Further, the bill requires the board to hold at least three public hearings for the purpose of taking testimony regarding the replacement of landline service with wireless service.  The public hearings are to be held in three separate locations throughout the State, one within the northern part of the State, one within the central part of the State, and one within the southern part of the State.  Following the public hearings and after notice and opportunity for public comment, on or before December 1, 2014, the board is to prepare and submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature that is to include information regarding the potential impact on customers, rates, public safety, reliability, and the sales, marketing, service, and maintenance practices of companies.

 

COMMITTEE AMENDMENTS:

      The committee amended the bill to remove the bill’s one-year moratorium on a company’s replacement of landline service with non-copper-based landline service and its mention in the bill’s reporting requirement.  The amendments allow a company to replace the landline service with wireless service at the unsolicited request of a customer or a public safety agency, provided that the customer or public safety agency may return to landline service, or other comparable service as determined by the board, with no penalty or termination fee imposed by the company.

      The committee amended the bill to include in the report issued by the board to the Governor and the Legislature information on the current sales, marketing, service, and maintenance practices of companies.  Finally, the amendments make a subdivision correction.