Ocean County Verizon customers are back up and running, and officials with the company are investigating whether their fiber optic cables "broke, or got cut," leading to an outage that started yesterday afternoon and lasted into this morning, according to a company spokesman.The disruption took place on very same day that local legislators asked the Board of Public Utilities to look into a decision by Verizon to require Ocean County-area residents to use a wireless alternative called Voice Link.
The disruption occurred around 3 p.m. Thursday, and continued for hours, with many customers heading to local Verizon stores under the belief that their phones were broken.
Those affected include: Toms River, Brick, Bay Head, Mantoloking, Berkeley, Waretown, Point Pleasant Beach and Boro, Lakewood, Manchester, Lacey and Beachwood.
The Verizon outage map shows who continues to be affected: downdetector.com/status/verizon-wireless/map/ shows many without wireless communication and data.
At the Toms River Verizon location on Hooper Avenue, an employee was addressing people's concerns about the outage. He said 38 towers were out in Ocean County.
The outage seemed to highlight a statement issued earlier in the day by Sen. Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin, stressing the importance of alternative lines in these communities.
Earlier this year, residents in Brick Township, Bay Head and Mantoloking were informed by Verizon that their traditional land-line phone connection was being discontinued and customers would be required to use its new wireless alternative called Voice Link.
The company explained that the copper wiring damaged by Sandy was too costly to replace. Last week, Verizon reversed a similar stance it had taken with residents of Fire Island, N.Y. after receiving negative feedback from the community.
“My husband and I use Verizon Wireless and have not had service since this afternoon. We were in Atlantic City when it went out mid-afternoon. It’s now 9:45 p.m. and still no service,” said Barbara Miller of the Ortley Beach section of Toms River.
Holzapfel, Wolfe and McGuckin issued a statement noting that they "do not agree with the company’s change of position for Fire Island but not for these affected towns in New Jersey.
In a letter to the Board of Public Utilities, the District 10 legislators asked the BPU to look into the matter as well as explore the option of requiring Verizon to wire these communities with fiber optics in order to ensure that all residents have adequate telephone services.
McGuckin and Wolfe are sponsors of recently introduced legislation (A-4359) that establishes a one-year moratorium on the replacement of copper-based, landline telephone service with wireless telephone service.
The bill also requires BPU to conduct a study of the issue during the moratorium and issue a report to the governor and Legislature.