Today, Wednesday, July 31, 2019, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer, Hope Mayor Tim McDonough, Knowlton Mayor Adele Starrs, and Hardwick Mayor Kevin Duffy appeared in Hope Borough Hall with Service Electric CEO Bob Williams. Williams announced Service Electric’s plans to double internet speeds for all of their customers in the coming months.
They also included a change in the payment model that will allow customers to spread out costs of non-standard installations over a longer period of time, rather than paying the full price up front.
Gottheimer has been working with North Jersey mayors, councils, and internet service providers, including Service Electric and Century Link, throughout his tenure to bring high-speed broadband to every corner of the Fifth District. Many mayors, including McDonough, Starrs, and Duffy, have been leading on this issue for years.
“While we still have much more work to do across the Fifth District, I was glad to join Mayors McDonough, Starrs, and Duffy, with Service Electric, on the steps they are taking to improve service to our homes, schools, and businesses in our region. These improvements are a direct result of the meetings and work we have all accomplished working together,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).
Gottheimer continued, “I’m eager to keep working with elected officials, Service Electric, and other providers, about action they are taking to improve speeds, connectivity, and affordability. I will continue to work with the providers and our great mayors, councils, and schools to help get costs down and make it easier to install the physical infrastructure necessary for internet access. We live in the greatest country in the world and our great businesses and students must be able to compete in the global marketplace.”
Below are Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery.
Thank you all for being here to discuss such a crucial topic for our community and one that, whether it’s our home or business that struggles with connectivity, in an interconnected world, it really does affect all of us.
I also want to acknowledge the Newton Robotics Team, who are such an impressive group of leaders. They were instrumental in bringing this problem to the forefront and are great advocates for the need to upgrade speeds here in North Jersey. Their team competes all over the country throughout the year and we are incredibly proud of them. I was lucky enough to visit with them a few months ago, and could see firsthand how slow internet access affects our students.
They’re smart kids, and they deserve access to high speed broadband — unfortunately something that too many lack in our community and in rural communities around the country . In 2019, In New Jersey, especially in the western part of the Fifth District – students, families, and businesses shouldn’t have to move just to get basic internet access. Yet, in too many areas, close to a quarter of middle-and working-class households lack access to the internet. In Newton, it’s nearly a third. Imagine trying to do your homework or apply for a job without access to the internet. In White Township, more than thirty five percent of the middle class lack access to high-speed broadband. We’ve got to fix that.
Even in places where we do have broadband access, the speeds are frustratingly slow, which is unacceptable. Members of the Newton Robotics Team told me that it would take upwards of ten minutes to load their Google Drive folders to do their homework and more than forty five minutes to load an episode of Game of Thrones. More and more, businesses are relying on cloud-based information storage and moving to communication systems that require some form of internet access. What we have is students stuck waiting for their homework to load and business owners who are unable to communicate with their customers or market their products and services online. You can’t compete these days, in most businesses, unless you have strong, reliable, affordable broadband. And students need it to have access to each other, to their teachers, and information.. It’s not a luxury – it’s a necessity.. It’s no different than getting a phone line to your last century.
Since my first year in office, I have been proud to work with local Mayors, councils, and businesses across the region and Service Electric to try to bring better, faster, and more affordable, broadband internet service to North Jersey. I’ve heard from so many residents about the need for better, faster, more affordable access. But many people have consistently complained, including our towns who lack strong enough connectivity for emergency response for their borough and EMS. This is Basic safety. We’ve also made the same points to century link been in regular touch with them about more faster and affordable connectivity. Century Link, and we will be having a meeting with them and mayors later this summer.
Keep in mind, connectivity costs are not just about the monthly bills. It’s often about the initial set up – from the road to the home, which can be particularly challenging in our more rural areas. Working together, we are starting to make real progress.
My office helped Newton High School with their internet provider to get faster speeds this past year and it’s expanded the work the students there can do — including the robotics team! Speed and connectivity are critical for us to be able to compete in a global economy, and this robotics team and lab are just incredible. I’m excited to see them at the fair next week.
While we still have much more work to do across the district, today, we’re here today to join together to hear from Service Electric about steps they are taking to improve service to our homes, schools, and businesses in our region. These steps are a direct result on the meetings and work we have all done together.
The first step, which we will learn more about, is about improving internet speeds across the board here in Sussex and Warren. Service Electric has completed the upgrades to the equipment that provides service to the county. My understanding is that after the fiber optic cables that connect that equipment to the network are complete, customers in the area will begin to see improvements in speeds over the next few months. I’m hoping that this will help families download movies faster, students to do their homework and communicate, and Our businesses will be able to reach a broader range of customers with greater speed — increasing opportunities to sell their goods and services. It will make it easier for people to find those great businesses or find that next job opening or even just FaceTime with a loved one.
The second announcement is a new arrangement to help residents who live in more remote parts of the district afford to get connected, by spreading out the charges of costly installations over time. One of the challenges we face in trying to bring high-speed broadband into homes and businesses here is the sheer cost of installing the physical infrastructure necessary to connect those who live off a main road or in homes in less-densely grouped areas. These “non-standard installs” are expensive and, as many constituents have told me, often cost prohibitive – sometimes in the thousands of dollars just to run cable from route 94 a few feet up to people’s property. Right now, residents must pay the entire cost upfront, before work begins and they can get connected.
These steps and others that we will hear about in a minute are a good necessary start. I’m eager to keep hearing from Service Electric, Century Link and others about action they are taking to improve speeds, connectivity, and affordability. I will continue to work with the providers and our great mayors and councils and schools to try to get costs down and make it easier to install the physical infrastructure necessary to connect our homes, schools, and businesses to the internet. I will also keep fighting for USDA grants to claw more of our federal tax dollars back to Jersey to help cut the costs of connectivity, instead of these dollars going elsewhere.
We live in the greatest country in the world and our great businesses and our students should be able to compete in the global marketplace. By working together on this, I know our best days will always be ahead of us.
Thank you, may God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. Now, it’s my pleasure to introduce Bob Williams from Service Electric.