EDA: broadband still a focus

  • Above: Where internet speeds are slowest are in dark gray. Courtesy illustration

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/4/2016 6:59:49 PM

While the Peterborough Economic Development Authority was disappointed when the Legislature killed a bill that would have made it possible for towns to bond for broadband expansion, the volunteer group isn’t giving up on plans to improve internet access in town.

“This is critical for the economy of our state. We need to be able to attract high-tech, 21st-century businesses,” said Jeanne Dietsch of the EDA. “What surprised us is the disparity of broadband coverage in town.”

For example, excellent service is available along Route 101 East and Route 202 South; there, customers have the option of redundant 1 gigabit per second download and upload speed. The core of the town, stretching up along Route 202 North and Route 101 West, as well as Sandhill Road to East Mountain Road, enjoy professional and family service internet speeds, with both DSL and cable options, for speeds between 1 and 250 megabits per second. In certain places in this area, there’s even the option of getting 1 Gbps, for a price.

“You get what you pay for,” Dietsch said; “250 Mbps is perfectly adequate for most businesses.”

The upload speeds are slower, however, and that can affect business transactions. “The upload is what you can sell,” Dietsch explained. “If a town can’t upload, they’re not selling anything.”

But in the outlying areas (shown in dark gray in the accompanying map), speeds can be more variable and DSL is your only option, unless you go with a satellite. 

“DSL comes on a copper wire. It’s your telephone line,” Dietsch noted. So your service is very much dependent on the condition of the wire and the length you are from the repeater, which strengthens the signal.

The EDA’s goal is to educate the public about how to get the best out of the options available. For example, as a recent EDA report reads, “If service is shared by many neighbors, you may need to convince your carrier to upgrade the line. Enlist the help of neighbors to let customer service know your neighborhood is due for an upgrade.”

In some cases, the solution for slow service may be as simple as getting a free modem upgrade from the provider.

They are also looking to the town’s contract with Comcast, which expires in 2019, for ways to expand service. According to the contract, “coax cable must be provided in any area with 20 dwellings per mile, within 1 mile of a cable box,” the EDA report reads, so there may be areas poised for upgrades.

“Even those who fall outside the standard may qualify for partial help. According to the contract, owners pay the difference between the standard and actual cost of a build-out for the dwellings in question,” according to the report.

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