The Bulletin Board

$66 million to build out high-speed internet access

By: - September 8, 2022 3:49 pm

New Hampshire will receive a total of $122 million in federal funding to build broadband infrastructure in parts of the state where it’s lacking. (Michael Bocchieri | Getty Images)

New Hampshire will receive an additional $66 million in federal funding to build out broadband infrastructure in rural parts of the state still lacking access to high-speed internet, the congressional delegation announced Thursday.

The latest round of funding comes after an initial $50 million infusion in June. Together, the two installments are estimated to be enough to build coverage to 24,000 addresses in the state, or around 80 percent of addresses without broadband.Right now, that’s 30,000 addresses.  

This funding would change that by 2026, the deadline to complete projects funded by the American Rescue Plan Act.

It’s up to the state to select the internet service providers that will receive contracts to build out broadband, a process that is already underway for the first round of funding. The New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs had received seven proposals as of the end of July. The state’s request for proposals sought a bidder that could provide service to as many unserved addresses at  the least cost.

Sen. Maggie Hassan said that the problem is particularly pressing for rural communities that lack access. “We cannot let communities and families fall behind, either because of their locations, or because of the lack of affordability for the internet options that they have,” she said during a call announcing the funding Thursday.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster said the broadband funding would benefit telehealth and help the state attract and retain young people.

Both infrastructure and affordability are barriers to access. About half of New Hampshire residents lack access because of infrastructure, while the other half can’t afford service.

Around 23,700 people in New Hampshire have already accessed a program that provides low-cost internet service, said Gene Sperling, senior advisor to the president, during the call Thursday.

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s energy and environment reporter. She previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.