TDS rolling out fiber upgrades in Lyndeborough

  • A map of Lyndeborough shows the homes who will have access to fiber internet with faster speeds after infrastructure upgrades by TDS Telecom. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/16/2019 9:24:40 PM

John Clark lives on the Lyndeborough-Milford line, and he sees all too clearly the advantage offered on the Milford side when it comes to high-speed internet. 

“Like most, if not all residents of Lyndeborough, I experience quality of service issues. I’m able to stream things – slowly – and download things – slowly,” Clark, who chairs the town’s Information Technologies Advisory Committee said. “But I can look literally 25 feet away, to Milford, which has modern 2020-style internet service.”

That’s soon to change – at least for the town’s most populated areas.

TDS Telecom is in the midst of the installation phase to install fiber-optic lines to the majority of Lyndeborough. The lines will cover 60 percent or more of the town, and provide fiber internet to the areas of the town center on Center Road and Mountain Road.

It’ll be a significant difference, Town Administrator Russ Boland said.

“Compared to fiber, the current system is very slow,” Boland said. “It’s just much faster. It should allow people to work from home more easily, which has become a big concern for people.”

Installation of the new lines is anticipated to be completed this year, and after a 12-week testing phase, eligible customers will have the option to upgrade their service. 

Customers will have various options, with download speeds ranging from 100 Megabits per second to 1 Gigabit per second.

Generally, a download speed of between 6-10 Megabits per second supports casual internet use and streaming high-definition video most of the time, with 10-20 Megabits per second providing fast downloads and a more reliable streaming service.

The popular film and television streaming service Netflix, for example, recommends its users have a download speed of 5 Megabits per second to watch high-definition content, and 25 Megabits per second for ultra-high-definition quality. 

It’s the kind of speed and reliability the town needs to continue to attract new residents and businesses, Clark said.

Lyndeborough’s proximity to towns with better service, such as Wilton and Milford, have left it lacking in comparison for new home buyers and people wanting to start up new businesses.

“I know several people who have moved out of town because of it, and at least in one case, where the sale of a home fell through because the prospective owner realized they couldn’t work from home,” Boland said. 

“If I want to start a business that relies on high-speed internet, am I going to go to Lyndeborough? Probably not,” Clark said. 

Rural communities have limited options when it comes to upgrading infrastructure. Installing fiber lines comes with a cost-per-foot, and providers target high-population areas where they can reach the most potential customers at the same time. Rural communities where houses are spread out and there is a low population are generally the last to see service upgrades, if at all.

“In rural Lyndeborough, that means they’re paying a lot more for a lot fewer customers. Anywhere that’s rural is feeling that pain,” Clark said.

And that means for people like Clark, who lives outside of the area of the expected fiber upgrade, have few options for how to improve their internet speed.

Boland said discussions about how to get the same level of service to the remaining citizens of Lyndeborough are ongoing.

Last year, the state passed a bill that allows municipalities to pass bonds to pay for infrastructure to improve internet service for “underserved” areas – meaning speeds under 25 Megabits per second for downloads and three Megabits per second for uploads. 

Lyndeborough has looked into that option, Boland said, but added that the bill has only recently passed and only the town of Chesterfield has taken advantage of the opportunity so far. In the Chesterfield case, Consolidated Communications agreed to take on the $1.8 million bond to build fiber infrastructure throughout the town, which will be paid back through a subscriber fee.

“We have looked into that, and it’s not something we’ve dismissed, but it is a brand new concept,” Boland said. “We want to move forward cautiously.”

Boland said the town is continuing discussions with TDS Telecom about continuing to extend improved internet access to the rest of town.




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