Hancock, Dublin move ahead with broadband

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/6/2019 2:35:11 PM

Dublin is negotiating a contract with Consolidated Communications for municipal broadband as of Oct. 15, and Hancock issued a Request for Proposals for a broadband provider for their town as of Oct. 21. They are two of the region’s towns that are moving towards a solution for expanded broadband internet, along with Rindge and Mason.

“I’m excited,” Dublin Broadband Committee member Sturdy Thomas said. “When it’s all said and done, people can have fiber to the home at or below their current internet costs,” based on costs anticipated with an agreement with Consolidated Communications, and what residents are currently paying.

The negotiations came after Dublin completed a Request for Proposals from internet providers at the end of August. Thomas said the town received five proposals, including the one they opted to pursue from Consolidated Communications.

“We had some good proposals, theirs ended up being the best proposal financially for the town,” he said.

Previously, Dublin determined that 83 percent of its properties are considered “unserved” by federal standards, meaning they lack internet access with throughput of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.

Thomas said that the next step is for the Broadband Committee to negotiate a contract with the provider. Thomas said he expects the contract to provide an opportunity for every residence in town to get broadband internet.

“The way we hope it works out is there’ll be a fee associated with [residents’] broadband fiber to the home until as long as the bond is paid off. That way, it doesn’t impact tax rates,” he said.

Thomas said he believes the bond could be paid off over 20 or 30 years.

“We’re going to hopefully get what we feel will be a reasonable agreement,” he said, and that the contract would then go to the Select Board. “They’ll review it, and then it’ll go to our attorneys.

Once we have a contract, we’ll be looking at what we have for bonding,” he said. Thomas said he expected that process to take four to six weeks. At that point, he said “We intend to have numerous informational meetings to make sure people know what [the proposed bond] entails and what the commitments are.”

Thomas said he’s optimistic about including a decision on the bond in the 2020 Town Meeting agenda. If the bond is approved, he said the first connections to the network could take place by the fall of 2020.

Hancock

The town of Hancock posted a Request for Proposals for improved broadband internet coverage on Oct. 21. The request exclusively solicits wired technologies and provides the town the option of forming a partnership with one or more providers. Hancock could also pursue the option of funding the upgrades with a bond in a public-private partnership, like Dublin. The deadline for proposals is Nov. 26.

In the past year, the town’s Telecommunications Committee surveyed residents twice and developed a map of existing internet service coverage throughout the town, and also completed a Request for Information in August. Committee member Dana Primiano said Comcast and Consolidated Communications, companies with a significant existing footprint in town, responded to the request to confirm which areas of town were underserved with regards to maximum internet speeds. He said the process “basically validated what we had, and the mapping we had done. … The committee is feeling pretty good that we were right on.”

A well-documented Request for Information and Request for Proposals are necessary prerequisites if the town ultimately decides to bond, Primiano said, and that the committee’s own mapping efforts have made it easier for residents to visualize and understand what the committee was taking on.

“Some folks were very surprised that 24 percent of the town was underserved,” he said. “If we have to go to bonding or financing... [we know] how many homes can directly benefit outside of the existing Comcast footprint.”

Primiano said that other towns looking into broadband coverage ought to know the current providers in their town.

“Every town’s going to have a different situation,” he said. “Towns really have to solicit the carriers they think are likely to do something in their town,” he said, which might mean that existing dominant providers have an advantage.

He said that getting a broadband proposal on a warrant article for the 2020 Town Meeting is a target for the committee, but ultimately the timeline depends on the proposals they receive.

“It depends on whether we have something that the town could really move on,” he said. “If we couldn’t make March [Town Meeting], but we had a proposal that was worthwhile, we could always call a special meeting.”


Jobs



Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, your source for Peterborough area news.


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

20 Grove St.
Peterborough, NH 03458
603-924-7172

 

© 2019 Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy