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|NH Leaders Express Broadband Concerns|
|Published Tuesday, October 17, 2017 12:00 pm|
Several NH leaders say more needs to be done to increase access to high speed internet in several rural communities. They voiced their concerns at a public field hearing held by the Commerce Committee of the U.S. Senate at Keene State College on Oct. 13. The hearing was to discuss expanding broadband infrastructure in NH.
Senator Maggie Hassan oversaw the hearing, which opened with a statement from Federal Communications Commission Commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel, who noted that technology is a key component of competing in today’s world. “Every day I am reminded that the future belongs to the connected. No matter who you are or where you live in this country, you need access to modern communications for a fair shot at 21st-century success,” she said. “But the fact of the matter is that too many Americans lack access to broadband. This includes 23 million Americans living in rural areas. This includes 15 percent of those living in rural New Hampshire. This is not acceptable. We need to do better.”
Joshua Cyr, director of education and acceleration at Alpha Loft in Manchester, testified that a lack of high speed internet deters people from moving to the state. “Lack of broadband turns away those who we are working hardest to attract,” he says. “New Hampshire, like other states, has an aging population and that is creating numerous critical issues for our state. Lack of high speed internet exacerbates the problem and frustrates our efforts in attracting and retaining younger generations.”
Michael Reed, state president of Consolidated Communications, echoed those concerns. “Access to high-speed broadband is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity for American families, businesses and consumers,” he said. “High-speed internet access fuels the economic engine that unlocks new ways to be more productive, compete for business, enable learning in and beyond the classroom and provide high-quality healthcare to rural communities.”
A key points of Rosenworcel's was that NH can’t afford to let the “homework gap” continue, noting that 100 percent of the Granite State’s children should have access to reliable broadband, so that they're able to complete homework assignments.
Agreeing with that sentiment, Tom Strickland, president and co-owner of Sequoya Technologies in Peterborough, who has previously served on the board of NH FastRoads, which built a fiber optic open network to provide middle-mile and last mile service in rural areas of western NH, stated that NH can remedy its broadband issue.
“A mile of asphalt costs more than a mile of fiber. We can fix this," Strickland said.
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