Jaffrey considers public-private broadband bond options

  • Town of Jaffrey Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/12/2020 12:22:10 PM

Jaffrey may soon join neighbors Dublin and Rindge in pursuing better internet speeds through a public-private bonding agreement.

During a recent teleconference meeting of the Jaffrey Select Board, Joanne Carr, head of the town’s Economic Development Council, requested the board consider whether Jaffrey would like to investigate the possibility of bonding for broadband internet.

Broadband, as defined by the federal government, is considered to be at least 25 megabits per second of download speed and 3 megabits per second of upload speed. Both conditions must be met in order to be considered broadband.

In March, Rindge and Dublin joined the ranks of several New Hampshire towns that took advantage of recently passed legislation allowing towns to bond to build out infrastructure for faster internet. In both towns, Consolidated Communications has been selected to build the infrastructure, and the bond payments will be paid back through a service fee attached to those who sign onto the new system, and not from taxation. In both towns, Consolidated has guaranteed the bond, meaning that even if there are not enough subscribers to cover the bond payments, the town is not responsible for paying the difference.

Carr said the town has already taken steps to analyze the town’s internet infrastructure and determine what speeds are available at each address in town. She said the numbers vary “wildly and widely”.

The board gave Carr approval to start the process of gathering information about bonding for internet in Jaffrey, as well as looking into potential partnerships with bordering towns. Carr said with two towns bordering Jaffrey currently in the process of building internet infrastructure in the next 18 months, there may be efficiencies to be gained by planning a Jaffrey project at the same time.

Selectman Kevin Chamberlain pointed out that with more people than ever using the internet to access school and work, the need for better coverage is more apparent than ever.

“It’s pretty obvious we’re going to need some means to connect,” Chamberlain said.

“It’s at least worth exploring,” agreed Select Board Chair Frank Sterling.

Carr said the intent of the investigations is to bring forward a potential warrant article during next year’s March Town Meeting.


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