Peterborough officials are standing behind a Senate bill allowing towns to bond to expand internet services, after a similar House bill appears to be stalled in committee.
SB 170 seeks to amend a current law that prevents towns from bonding to pay for internet coverage in areas where a provider is already present. The bill is currently in committee, being considered by the Public and Municipal Affairs Committee.
Adam Hamilton, who is a member of both the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and a member of Peterborough’s Economic Development Authority has started a petition in support of the Senate bill.
“Bonding for broadband would be no different that any other municipal infrastructure — like water, sewer, airports, schools,” wrote Hamilton on the petition page. “This is an economic development, workforce, and competitiveness issue.”
The bill is identical to one that was also proposed in the House this year, as HB 191, which last month was voted 14-7 by the Science and Technology Committee as inexpedient to legislate — which kills the bill if the house adopts the committee recommendation.
Peterborough officials testified in favor of HB 191, and are also backing the Senate-introduced bill. The bill was even sponsored by state Rep. Peter Leishman, Peterborough’s representative, as well as by fellow Monadnock region reps Frank Sterling (R-Jaffrey) and Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsborough).
Leishman said the intent behind the House bill was not for towns to be acting as competition against private industry, but to give them options to provide better service where providers are not interested due to low customer volume, or even to work with providers to extend their use.
Peterborough representatives, including the Select Board, argued for the bill, citing the need for high-speed internet both for business and private use, and the importance of having as many options as possible to get service to unserved and underserved areas.
In his petition, Hamilton cited the increasing use of the Internet for critical areas of life – working from home, access to school materials and classes, and telemedicine to name a few, saying that the need for high-speed internet is and issue that impacts both businesses and private individuals.
The petition is available online at Change.org, and can be found by searching Hamilton’s name.
Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.