Howell officials want answers from Optimum after residents note issues with service

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HOWELL – Issues with an internet service provider were a topic of discussion during a recent meeting of the Howell Township Council.

During the public comment portion of the governing body’s Sept. 15 meeting, a resident asked municipal officials why a page that had been made available on Optimum Online’s website for comments from customers was no longer functioning.

“Is there an issue with this page? Or is it no longer valid for Howell residents? Many residents are having issues with Optimum which is making it difficult for people to work from home or (for) online learning. I think it is time for the council to send a letter to the BPU (the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities) about our disappointment with the services,” the resident wrote in an email during the meeting that was being conducted in a virtual manner.

Mayor Theresa Berger said she agreed with the resident’s sentiments “one million percent.”

“It is horrible. It is horrible. Our internet services in this town are horrible,” the mayor said.

Councilman John Bonevich said the council members have spoken about the issue in the past and said “we have to renegotiate (Optimum’s) contract.”

“And that (renegotiation) is coming up. So if the internet is not working and their complaint forms are not even working, we are going to have (Optimum) come to the table and maybe have Verizon come to the table and see what will happen,” Bonevich said.

An Optimum representative did not respond to a request for comment from the Tri-Town News.

Internet service “is certainly not a cheap expense for people who live in town. It is very expensive,” Berger said.

Township Attorney Joseph Clark said municipal representatives are in the process of renegotiating a contract that allows Optimum to operate in Howell.

“There are two processes for a provider to obtain a franchise in a geographic area. One way is how Verizon is doing it; they are going right to the BPU for their renewal. So we can go to the BPU and make our thoughts known on that.

“The other way is how we did it with Cablevision-Altice-Optimum; we have a specific franchise ordinance in place with them, it is expiring, and we are in the process of renegotiating that right now,” Clark said.

The attorney said residents’ comments about Optimum’s internet service are being relayed to the appropriate parties.

“We will deal with them during our franchise negotiations,” Clark said.

Bonevich said Howell’s Information Technology Department should have its own complaint form on the municipal website so residents’ comments may be forwarded to the BPU.

“That is the way to do it. Why depend on (Optimum)? Let us field the complaints and send it all in one shot,” the councilman said.

Berger supported the suggestion for a complaint form to be placed on Howell’s website.