We [Comcast] have one competitor.
New Hampshire FastRoads is leading the charge to connect the region. The project is funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grants, private donations, and contributions from local communities. We spoke with Carole Monroe, Executive Director, to get an update on this open access network in rural western New Hampshire.
The first municipality to be connected to New Hampshire FastRoads, Richmond, was connected on November 1st. One-third of the network is now lit and the remainder will be completed and lit by November 30, 2013. Monroe tells us most of the 235 community anchor institutions (CAIs) have fiber terminated at their facilities and connections can be easily configured to 1 Gbps.
There are also 75 residential customers, many of whom are choosing 20 Mbps symmetrical service. A smaller number take 50 Mbps or 100 Mbps symmetrical service. Monroe notes that people in the community with home based businesses or telecommute are signing up quickly.
Monroe also told us about the Hampshire Country School, a private boarding school in Ringe and CAI. Before FastRoads, the school had only a T1 line. They will be connected with 50 Mbps by the end of the month.
We also touched base with Kenneth Kochien, Director of Information Services at Colby-Sawyer College in New London. The college is one of the many CAIs along the network. Kochien told us via email:
NH FastRoads provides our institution with alternative bandwidth solutions which have made a very significant difference in both affordability as well as enabling us to pursue various cloud-based strategic services. In other words, more than one budget line is impacted by having affordable and sufficient bandwidth.
Most importantly, it has enabled us to provide quality Internet experience for our students. As is well known, students seemingly have an insatiable appetite for multiple devices along with the need for continuous connectivity to social media. All of that is dependent on bandwidth.
NH FastRoads provides us with a path for future growth. The absence of NH FastRoad service would have made meeting the administrative and academic technology needs of the institution far more challenging. Thank you NH FastRoads.
The network has four Internet service providers on the network, two of which also provide residential service. Monroe expects several more providers to come on board when they realize their CAI customers want to be served via the fast network connections.
Monroe says New Hampshire FastRoads is now looking to the future. There are local neighborhoods not yet connected that are considering paying for builds themselves. FastRoads is helping them examine different models to bring the network to their communities. There are several towns with fiber in parts of town that are seeking ways to get the entire town connected.
The competitive environment is working in New Hampshire says Monroe:
For all the reasons the grants were written the way they were regarding open access, and creating a competitive environment, and including the CAIs for sustainability but also to give them better service - that is all working. The intent was good and the intent is working.