Temple can still bond for broadband despite town meeting delay

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/22/2021 5:46:05 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic made municipal broadband internet an even higher priority due to the home-based work, school, and entertainment the emergency demanded. Thankfully, there are workarounds to the virus’s continued presence as towns like Temple attempt to complete the municipal bonding process to improve their town’s internet access, Temple Broadband Subcommittee Chair Jessica Hipp said.

Temple residents are asked to authorize a $710,435 municipal bond at Town Meeting in June this year, at no cost to taxpayers, Hipp said.  Municipal bonds are sold through the New Hampshire Municipal Bond Bank on a biannual basis, but the process may be a little more flexible this year in light of so many towns rescheduling meetings and votes, she said, meaning that bonding could still occur in a timely manner despite a three-month delay in Temple’s Town Meeting. It’s still too soon to know when residents could expect to get connected if the article passes, she said.

Temple officials are able to start negotiating the town’s contract with internet provider Consolidated Communications ahead of June, Hipp said. Consolidated won the town’s favor earlier this year, Hipp said, after the company responded to an update in the estimated percent of residences in town currently “unserved” by high-speed internet. The Broadband Subcommittee initially advertised the town as almost entirely unserved, with only one percent connected to high speed internet, she said, since the data they initially received from Comcast was unusable, but later estimated coverage at 44.6 percent. Comcast never submitted an updated bid, she said.    

The first required public hearing for the municipal bond happened at the start of February and the Subcommittee is scheduling another one where a Consolidated representative will be available to answer questions, Hipp said, and there’ll likely be even more outreach in advance of the June vote. Residents should know that only broadband subscribers will be paying the service fee built in to cover installation costs, Hipp said. Any Temple resident can get connected, even on the absolute fringes of town, she said, and Consolidated has indicated that home connections are free of charge if there’s a line of sight between the road and house, or if there’s already conduit run to the house – a common concern of residents with long driveways.




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