NH Officials: Rural Granite Staters Need More Reliable Broadband
Tuesday, December 21, 2021
Granite Staters say the funding for broadband in the bipartisan infrastructure package signed into law last month is critical for their communities.
While many say the problem has existed for decades, the increased need for high-speed internet for virtual work and learning during the pandemic put an added spotlight on the issue.
Julie Dolan, chair of the Sandwich Broadband Committee, said to build out service, broadband providers want a minimum of 50 houses per mile, but in Sandwich, there are fewer than 10 houses per mile overall, so federal funding is key.
"We've all heard the horror stories of the people trying to work, kids trying to go to school, all of those things, telehealth," Dolan outlined. "We have an older population in town, so all of those things just weren't working in Sandwich."
The infrastructure bill included $65 billion for improving broadband nationwide, much specifically targeted at rural and tribal areas. Dolan noted Sandwich is partnering with nonprofit New Hampshire Broadband to get the town up to speed.
Nik Coates, town administrator of Bristol and chair of the Grafton County Broadband Committee, said in his region, there is only one provider per town, if at all.
"The lack of competition in the marketplace and the lack of options has really created a problem that preceded the pandemic in that the speeds are not what the providers say they're providing," Coates explained.
The U.S. ranks 27th in the world for access to high-speed internet, according to the consulting firm Kepios, and ranks 14th in the world for the speed of its mobile and broadband internet connections, according to speedtest.net.
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