‘Keeping up with everybody else’ – Broadband extended to more rural areas  

Monitor staff
Published: 5/23/2023 4:46:48 PM
Modified: 5/23/2023 4:44:18 PM

When Bob Nadeau logged onto a Zoom call from home on Monday morning, he used his brand-new internet service.

The smooth connection, high-definition camera quality and lack of buffering were a revelation. Nadeau tested the strength of his new high-speed connection when he joined a call to celebrate the expansion of broadband services to rural parts of the state, organized by the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, which received grant funding to bring connectivity to underserved communities across the state. 

Nadeau, who lives in Plymouth, first got access to high-speed internet three weeks ago through an expansion of the electric utility’s rural fiber-optic network run by its wholly-owned subsidiary, NH Broadband. Nadeau lives on a gravel road in a wooded area that has long lacked reliable access to the internet. Until recently, he paid two internet service providers and received spotty coverage, at best. 

“It was so frustrating,” Nadeau said in an interview. “There was a real inability to keep up with everyone else.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic moved his work as a professor at Plymouth State University online, he had to drive into downtown Plymouth to find a connection strong enough to host online meetings with students. His fiancée, who works in advertising, often worked from her car in a McDonald’s parking lot. 

Alyssa Clemsen Roberts, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Electric Co-op, told attendees of the virtual event that the pandemic highlighted the urgent need to expand broadband services to rural communities. 

“Our members told us they needed access to high-speed internet because they could no longer do the things that we all took for granted, like going to school, going to work, seeing a doctor, and visiting with family and friends,” she said. “Without high-speed internet, our rural members were just as disadvantaged as they were 85 years ago without electricity.” 

The co-op received a $50 million grant from the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs, which used money from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund the construction and maintenance of broadband infrastructure in 2022. The project is expected to be completed by 2026. 

Senator Maggie Hassan, who spoke at the event, said the expansion will be a “game changer” for rural residents in all corners of the Granite State. 

“By building out high-speed internet, we can ensure that New Hampshire’s small businesses, schools, students, and families will not be held back on account of their ZIP code,” Hassan said. 

Nadeau agreed.

“Now, I have a service that’s ten times better than before, and I’m saving money every month,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier.” 


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