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Grafton County Broadband Committee Proposes Building Out Fiber Network To Reach 39 Towns

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Grafton County is taking a step towards bringing faster broadband to all of its towns by proposing a 350-mile fiber internet network that would connect to town centers.

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The county’s broadband committee surveyed 2000 residents and businesses across the county. Nik Coates, Bristol’s town administrator and the chair of the broadband committee says they found that if the internet is being delivered at all, it's not great for many people.

“In a lot of places, you can’t get internet service,” he noted.

The network that would connect to town centers is known as a middle mile network. It wouldn’t go directly to residents’ homes, but instead would serve as the jumping-off point to those locations.

Coates says that network would serve as an anchor for developing the last mile of fiber internet that any company, from internet service providers to cable companies, could plug into.

He says access could bring more competition, better service and more options for the 39 towns in Grafton County.

“This [project] is an opportunity for the North Country to be put at the front of the line in terms of economic development and being able to create jobs locally and give people new opportunities to grow,” Coates says.

The county committee has submitted a grant application to the National Telecommunications and Information Agency to cover the costs of building out this $25 to $30 million network. If the project is fully funded, Coates says the goal is to have it built by the end of next year.

The committee recently selected eX2 Technology from Omaha, Nebraska to design, build and operate the project.

Coates says that if the $30 million grant doesn’t come through, Grafton’s broadband committee has applied for other grants including ones that build capacity in towns to help local leaders learn to apply for their town’s own broadband funding.

Daniela is NHPR's reporter in the Upper Valley and Monadnock regions. She also leads NHPR's Spanish language news initiative, ¿Qué Hay de Nuevo, New Hampshire? You can email her at dallee@nhpr.org.

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