Areas without access to high-speed internet limit ability to work from home

  • Tilson Director of Broadband and Energy Consulting Chris Campbell talks with Dublin residents on Wednesday night. Tilson is working with the town to develop a plan to create a broadband network in town. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Senator Maggie Hassan visited the Monadnock region to discuss the need for improved broadband for residents, businesses and schools. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, October 16, 2017 6:53PM

Dublin resident Carol Monroe is one of many in the Monadnock region who cannot work from home.

Without reliable broadband in rural areas, many do not have the upload and/or download speeds or consistent connectivity to send emails, let alone stream Netflix and other high-definition video services.

“I know a Dublin resident that drives to the Peterborough library because public Wi-Fi is better than what we get in town,” Monroe said during an informational meeting of the town’s broadband committee on Wednesday night. “The needs have changed. We can no longer do what we should be able to do.”

The town of Dublin recently approved a warrant article to commit $12,500 to pay for a broadband study, which will be completed in the coming months by Tilson Technology Management. Tilson personnel met Wednesday with residents and the town’s broadband committee to discuss what the town would like to see for a potential broadband project.

Many at the meeting spoke of the importance of strong broadband access in town, as it is crucial for businesses and people working from home, as well as keeping young people and bringing younger families into the community.

The study will present a plan and potential course of action for the town to take to get better broadband access to most, if not all residents in town. But that does not guarantee that the proposal will be feasible from a cost perspective.

“My opinion is that at some point, we will have to hold our nose and take a step,” said selectman and committee member Sturdy Thomas. “With how the world is changing, broadband will have to be here in some way.”

Dublin is by no means the only community that faces broadband issues.

Many legislators are fighting to expand broadband opportunities in the state and nation, with 45 national legislators recently sending a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, calling for him to end efforts to lessen standards for broadband connectivity.

“As you well know, reliable, high-speed broadband is essential to economic development, public safety, and a vibrant quality of life. Ensuring every home, school, and business has adequate access to the internet is essential to unlocking the innovative potential of all Americans,” the lawmakers wrote to Pai. “Simply moving the goalposts is not a policy solution, and weakening the definition of high speed internet is a disservice to the rural and tribal communities the FCC has an obligation to serve.”

Sen. Maggie Hassan, one of the people to sign the letter, also convened a Commerce Committee field hearing in Keene on Friday, where she highlighted the importance of expanding broadband infrastructure, especially in rural areas.

Hassan has also introduced bipartisan legislation with Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, that would help to establish a spectrum pipeline to provide more capacity for wireless providers as well as funding to invest in rural broadband.

“Our bill also makes meaningful investments in rural broadband infrastructure in places like New Hampshire, helping to strengthen local economies and provide our businesses and hard-working Americans in rural areas with the resources they need to get ahead and stay ahead,” Hassan said in a press release.

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.