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Rindge

Broadband expansion set  to go live in two months

Testing period to begin later this month, as providers sign on

RINDGE — In less than two months, several community institutions and approximately 524 homes in southwest Rindge are expected to have improved broadband access, thanks to N.H. FastRoads.

“I can see the light at the end of the fiber,” Carole Monroe, executive director of Fast Roads said at Wednesday’s Select Board meeting in Rindge. “We are 100 percent constructed on the aerial poles in the town of Rindge.”

Monroe noted that the remaining 10 percent of the fiber is being run through underground conduits in town.

“Friendly users” — anchor institutions or residents who have agreed to sign up during FastRoads network evaluation and testing period — are slated to be connected to the network by the third week in June, according to Monroe. Once any kinks are worked out, she said, the remainder of the FastRoads’ coverage area should have broadband access sometime in July.

But it is still unclear which Internet service providers will partner with FastRoads — a subsidy of Network New Hampshire Now, an institute comprised of public and private entities throughout the state and administered by the University of New Hampshire. FastRoads is an “open network,” meaning multiple Internet providers can offer service in the coverage area.

“We have service providers who are reviewing the Open Network Access Agreement with their attorneys at this time, and New Hampshire FastRoads will send out announcements as they come on board,” Monroe wrote in an email to the Ledger-Transcript on Thursday.

FastRoads will provide improved Internet access to 1,300 homes in Rindge and Enfield and 220 community institutions from Orford to Rindge, thanks to a $5.5 million federal grant to finance capital expenditures and $2.2 million in matching funds from private donations and other grant sources.

One of the conditions of the $100,000 Community Development Block Grant received by FastRoads in 2011 is that FastRoads hire five full-time equivalent employees by June 30, 2013, the date the grant expires. FastRoads has requested an extension from the Community Development Finance Authority to fill those positions, according to Monroe. If the request is not granted, Monroe said FastRoads would have to reimburse the federal grant provider in equivalent funds for jobs not created.

“At the time the grant was requested, we expected to be operational in 2012,” Monroe said, explaining that unexpected construction delays required FastRoads to amend its timeline. Keene to Rindge will be lit this summer and areas north of Keene in late summer or fall.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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