Dublin broadband rollout winding down

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/31/2021 4:29:05 PM

The fiber internet rollout is winding down in Dublin, and locals are sharing their mixed experiences in pursuing faster internet a year after the town voted to bond with Consolidated Communications to provide high speed internet to every residence in town.

Homes began to connect at the start of March and the first round of connections seem to be finishing up, Dublin’s project overseer and Select Board member Carole Monroe said on Friday.  Some residents have reported internet outages and slower-than-advertised service after their home was connected to fiber, she said, and she’s working to find out where Consolidated is in their construction process, and what else needs to be done in order for them to fulfill their side of the contract.

New Dublin resident Rob Segrin said he and his family were initially taken aback when they realized the scarcity of high speed internet in New Hampshire. Segrin works in the IT field. “I wouldn’t be able to do my livelihood without high speed internet,” he said, and chose to move to Dublin from Cape Cod after finding out about the town’s fiber rollout.

Segrin’s family bought a new home in January and had been making do with a cell phone hotspot, he said, so it was frustrating when their install date came and went in early March without a call or a visit. The company’s records didn’t show the terminals necessary for home connection had been installed outside, Segrin said, even though he had watched the technicians perform the work. Segrin said he’s familiar with those kinds of communication issues during big projects involving lots of contractors, but it still left him in a lurch, as he was set to start a new, fully remote position the following Monday.

“I was calling them about every day,” trying to get the issue resolved, he said. A couple days in, he received a call from a higher-up who explained the situation and sent a technician out the next day to complete the installation. “That’s something that you don’t get from a Comcast or a bigger ISP,” Segrin said, “It’s hard to stay mad when they reach out to you so quickly.” The new service is “night and day” compared to his cellular hotspot, he said. There have been outages since his home first got connected, Segrin said, but he has faith that Consolidated will continue to improve the network and steer clear from some of the monopolizing behavior that other internet service providers engage in. 

David Mueller was looking forward to playing along with the DubHub’s online song circle with his upgraded internet on Friday, just three days after its installation. “Hopefully mine is good enough now that I can participate,” he said, after months of listening to other musicians play since his former DSL connection would frequently drop out in the middle of a song, or distort his sound. Mueller is the pastor at Peterborough’s Good Shepherd Lutheran church and has conducted weekly church services and bible studies over Zoom for the past year, tasks that were sometimes too demanding for his previous connection.

Although Mueller said the new internet’s speed is sometimes slower than what the family subscribed to, it was still much better than what they used to have, he said, and he hadn’t yet pursued the issue with Consolidated. The lack of a tax burden associated with the project eliminates some anxiety and frustration, Mueller said, and he felt as though the town provided good information in advance. “There are always going to be things that cause a process to be less efficient than they hoped,” he said, like weather, illness, or the pandemic.

There are a lot of different factors to consider when the internet appears slower than the advertised speed, Monroe said, and a lot have to do with an individual household’s layout and internet-connected devices rather than the connection itself. Consolidated was following up with customers on an individual basis to troubleshoot complaints of slow connections, she said. More investigation needed to happen in order to determine whether the reports of slower speeds indicated a problem with the fiber rollout or not, she said.

When the Ledger-Transcript asked Consolidated Communications about customer complaints of outages and slower speeds, they responded with a list of considerations to make when running an internet speed test: test internet speeds via a device wired directly to the Consolidated router for an accurate speed check, a representative wrote, with a device capable to support and realize the maximum speed. Close open applications on the computer during the test. Older electronics, out-of-date browsers, anti-virus protection, and other applications can impact testing results, the representative wrote. Also, all devices in a home share the subscribed speed, so make sure the one conducting the speed test is the only one using the connection.

Outages appear to be limited to specific areas of the town, Monroe said. Some seem to be related to ongoing installation work, which ought to taper off, she said, and other outages appear to be related to recent high winds. Overall, fiber is more reliable than copper DSL, she said. but she and Consolidated were still investigating.

There are a couple of educational points Monroe would have tweaked if she did the project over again, she said, as there’s been some confusion among subscribers about what television and phone connections are available (there may not be a television product via Consolidated, she said, and copper phone line users must switch over to a VOIP connection when using fiber), and some people in town who haven’t yet been able to get connected via conduit on their property because the ground was too frozen, she said.

Dublin fiber subscribers should contact Monroe, particularly if they hadn’t yet received service due to incomplete construction or if the optical light level is too low, she said, or if conduit on the property was unable to receive fiber so the company installed an overhead wire instead, or if speed tests indicate a significant shortfall, she said. About 12 internet customers had responded to her so far, she said. She can be reached at cdmonroe@myfairpoint.net.

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