New Hampshire Electric Cooperative is making moves to bring broadband internet to rural parts of the Granite State.
Plymouth-based NHEC’s bylaws also could change pending the outcome of a special election in which the co-op’s 84,000 customers received their ballots by mail. Initially critics of the proposed change, the co-op’s leaders have since declared their support, the Concord Monitor reported.
“That would be important not only to greenlight their own plans, which are pretty ambitious … but might even have an effect beyond the co-op’s service area,” Richard Knox, a member of a broadband advocacy group, told the Monitor. “The entry of the co-op into broadband would have a good effect on other internet service providers – they can be very competitive … and I think that would have a bracing effect on pricing.”
Connection deserts are big problem in New Hampshire, with several towns reporting that few of their residents use a broadband connection and many have to resort to driving around to find a decent signal.
And with the COVID-19 pandemic rendering millions of Americans homebound, New Hampshire residents without reliable internet service are even more isolated.
“It has gotten so much visibility because of the pandemic; it’s so clear (broadband) is a necessary utility,” Knox said.
While the state is looking to dip into its CARES Act share to address its glaring digital divide, NHEC has two broadband pilot projects lined up.
The Monitor reported that the co-op plans to work on these projects in Lempster and the Colebrook area, where it owns the utility poles.
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