Proposals submitted for Jaffrey broadband project


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 1/15/2021 11:32:28 AM

Jaffrey has received two proposals for a broadband infrastructure buildout, one of which will be presented to voters in the spring.

During a public hearing on the public benefit of broadband, held in the Jaffrey Fire Station on Monday, Selectman and Broadband Committee representative Kevin Chamberlain detailed the benefits of broadband internet both for businesses and the private citizen.

“We have many miles of low-density population, resulting in Internet service that is poor or non-existent outside of the immediate downtown area. The lack of service impacts the community sustainability and future economic growth. Jaffrey appears to be well-served on paper via the broadband map, but lack of service and service gaps for many locations is impacting future growth and current sustainability,” Chamberlain said.

The federal government defines “broadband” internet service as 25 mbps of download speed and 3 mbps of upload speed. Chamberlain said that the Jaffrey center has broadband capability, but many of the areas outside of the center fall short. The average download speed in town is less than 10 mbps.

He said outside of that town center, businesses, whether they have a storefront or run by residents working from home, are impacted.

“Small businesses, entrepreneurs and home based business retention and growth are currently negatively impacted by unreliable, inaccessible and in places non-existent broadband connections,” Chamberlain said. “Small businesses are crucial to the town’s sustainability, providing a diverse economy by blending our large manufacturing sector with our downtown growth and investment.”

In preparation for an internet broadband proposal, the town’s Economic Development Council promoted a survey, where more than half of the respondents reported being either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their internet connection, with the main complaints being reliability and speed.

The town requested proposals for broadband buildouts this fall, and has received proposals from Comcast and Consolidated Communications.

The Select Board is scheduled to select a proposal to present to the public for voting in March. Either proposal is likely to require the town purchase a bond. A bond hearing will be scheduled prior to the March Town Meeting.

The Select Board will hold a second public hearing on the benefits of broadband infrastructure on Jan. 25 at the Jaffrey Fire Station.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.





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