Trenton- April 13, 2020 Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 126, prohibiting cable & telecommunications providers from terminating internet and voice services due to nonpayment until 30 days after the current public health emergency has ended.
The order also stipulates that all downgrades, service reductions, or late fees due to nonpayment are prohibited unless they are imposed in accordance with a policy approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, any internet or voice service that was disconnected after March 16 due to nonpayment must be reconnected.
“Most of our service providers voluntarily took these steps, in accordance with FCC policy, to protect their customers during this difficult time, and we are grateful for their partnership,” said Governor Murphy. The problem according to Murphy is that companies have not been consistently complying. “Our children need internet access for remote learning, our workforce needs the resources to telework, and families need to be able to keep each other informed. It is critical for our New Jersey residents to maintain these connections and not have their ability to communicate with the outside world severed.”
Executive Order 126 directs the following:
• No cable or telecommunications provider that provides residential internet and voice services to New Jersey residents shall terminate such due to nonpayment as long as the order remains in effect.
• A cable or telecommunications provider that provides residential internet and voice services to NJ residents may downgrade or otherwise reduce the quality of residential internet or voice services provided due to nonpayment only if acting pursuant to a policy approved in writing by the Board of Public Utilities as long as this Order remains in effect.
• A cable or telecommunications provider that provides residential internet and voice services to NJ residents may collect 1) a fee or charge imposed for late or otherwise untimely payments that become due from the date of this Order (April 13, 2020) for residential internet or 2) a fee charge imposed for voice service reconnections, other than what is described below, only if acting pursuant to a policy approved in writing by the Board of Public Utilities as long as this Order remains in effect.
• Any cable or telecommunications provider that provides residential and voice services to NJ residents shall, upon request of the customer, and at no cost to the customer beyond any actual cost incurred by the provider in reconnecting the service, reconnect any residential internet or voice that was discontinued due to nonpayment after March 16, 2020, including where the disconnection was for unpaid bills incurred prior to March 16, 2020.
The Order takes effect immediately and will remain in force until 30-days following the end of the public health emergency.