Residents in the Squam Lake area are working to improve Internet service in Sandwich. The Sandwich Broadband Advisory Committee held a listening session Friday, in which attendees expressed frustration with what they say is slow and unreliable service in town.
Richard Knox, one of the committee members, says Sandwich’s low population is one of the main reasons why Internet companies are reluctant to invest in broadband infrastructure.
However, he adds that because Sandwich doesn’t have any cable television franchises in town, which provide broadband to other areas of New Hampshire, the town might be more appealing to service providers due to the lack of competition.
Many residents at the event acknowledged the lack of reliable broadband causes Sandwich to lose out on economic opportunities, online educational resources, telemedicine, entertainment and a tighter-knit community.
Jessie Chapman works at a non-profit theater group in Sandwich. She says she wastes a lot of her day because of slow and unreliable Internet.
“I often have days where I have to leave the office to go home and work because the Internet drops out,” said Chapman. “Half of our to-do list requires the Internet and when it’s slow which it is 60% of the time, we just have to rearrange our whole day.”
Charlie Augustine has just permanently moved to Sandwich, after visiting during the summers for many years. He says he wasn’t able to work remotely from his house in town because of his poor Internet connection.
“It’s been pretty consistent in the sense that it’s inconsistent,” said Augustine. “I just retired, but when I was working I used to leave town if I had work. So there were summers that I just never came to town because I couldn’t get access to the Internet.”
The committee say possible funding options include federal funds, private-public partnerships and municipal bonds. Committee members plan to study the potential partners and funding options, and then provide a recommendation to the Select Board by the end of the year.