BERKELEY – Representatives from Verizon told members of the coalition of senior communities that fiber optic lines, and the Fios product that comes with it, will be available to them soon.
An informal question and answer period was presented during the Holiday City Silver Ridge Park Coalition of Berkeley Township and Silver Ridge Park East meeting at the Silver Ridge Park North clubhouse. Several Verizon representatives were in attendance.
Bryan DePaul, area engineering manager, said that the project is slated to start this spring, and should take two years to complete. The area east of Mule Road will be the starting point, but he was unsure what streets were specifically going to have access to Fios first. Eventually, it will be the entire senior community and the Manitou Park section of Berkeley.
Residents will be notified in advance of any work being done in their area, he said. Once the system is online, they will start to see advertising to sign up. Each section takes about 90 days to complete, so certain neighborhoods will have access to Fios before others.
DePaul said that the company will be drilling holes for the lines in the ground over existing cables, and mostly through rights-of-way.
“There won’t be backhoes tearing up front yards,” he said.
Fios will be a competitor for Comcast, which is in the area now. It would be an option for residents. None of the representatives present were from the financial or sales portion of the company, so they were unable to talk about prices.
Many towns had wanted to bring Fios into town, because it is more reliable than service based on copper wires. However, since it is a considerable investment, only some towns got it. The state ordered Verizon to do the 60 most populated municipalities, plus 10 in the south of the state.
Toms River was also included in that round, since it is a county seat. The Berkeley senior communities and Manitou Park were chosen for Fios because they were close to Toms River, said John Szeliga, external affairs field director for Verizon.
Office holders from the senior communities were also able to ask them questions. The following questions and answers were given:
If my neighbor doesn’t want Fios, can I still get it? Yes.
Will there be retail locations? Yes, however, the ones that say “Preferred retailer” on their signage are not run by Verizon, and won’t be able to help as much. There are currently no plans for additional stores than the one on Hooper Avenue in Toms River.
Will there be a community access channel? Initially, no, but it will be done.
What are the call center hours? Seven days a week, but the hours were not reported.
Will the call center be located in the United States? There are three call centers in New Jersey, located in Freehold, Livingston, and Hamilton. But, that does not guarantee that you won’t get someone overseas. “We are a multinational corporation,” Szeliga said.
Will digging the wires cause any damage? Minimal damage, and the homeowner will be made whole. “We will break sprinklers,” DePaul said, because they are never marked. Marked utilities can be avoided. The wires would be drilled under driveways, and driveways won’t have to be broken to get the work done.
Will employees identify themselves when coming into the neighborhood to do the work? Verizon employees will wear name badges and will drive a vehicle with the Verizon sign on it. J. Fletcher Creamer and Sons is doing the construction work.
Will customers be notified before work begins? Yes, through door hangers and other methods.
Will a senior discount be offered? No.
How much is installation? Free.
Is there a charge for each television? There is a rental fee for each box that is used in the house.
The Verizon employees were also using this time to get contact information for the heads of each of the senior developments so that they could continue informing them in the future. They also wanted maps of each development so they could see where one ended and one began.
A guarantee of service
Some residents wanted to make sure that Verizon had a firm commitment this time. There had been some false starts in the past, even to the point of advertising going out to homes.
“We’re going to pick up where we left off,” DePaul said.
The most recent issue was when Verizon sent a letter out to Berkeley homeowners in 2016 stating that Fios was starting soon. This was accidental, and was meant for Toms River residents, officials later said. It went to senior community homes because they share a Toms River mailing address.
“On behalf of Verizon, we do apologize for that mistake,” Szeliga said.