Broadband “high speed internet access” has clearly become an integral part of New Hampshire’s economy. It is critical for creating and maintaining jobs and for supporting public safety, education, healthcare, tourism, business, and our overall quality of life. The state must continually promote expanded broadband access and adoption in order to remain competitive with our neighboring states and Canada. To do so effectively, a thorough understanding of the ever changing broadband landscape is required - particularly in northern New Hampshire where broadband gaps persist.
Under the auspices of a grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission, the New Hampshire Broadband Mapping & Planning Program (NHBMPP) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) is working to extend and enhance broadband availability mapping and related outreach activities in the 43 communities in Coos County, New Hampshire. This comprehensive effort is incorporating data collection, data analysis, and data visualization/map generation, in order to: 1) provide an enhanced and ongoing picture of the broadband landscape in Coos County by identifying areas that are unserved/underserved; 2) work with communities, regional agencies, and broadband providers to ensure that they are aware of the broadband gaps identified; and 3) utilize geospatial modeling tools to deliver a generalized cost estimate for additional broadband deployment in Coos County.
The New Hampshire Broadband Mapping & Planning Program (NHBMPP) began a comprehensive five-year initiative, in 2010, with the goal of understanding where broadband is currently available in the state, how it can be made more widely available in the future, and how to encourage increased levels of broadband adoption and usage.The Program was an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) project funded through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Program was managed by the New Hampshire Geographically Referenced Analysis and Information Transfer System (NH GRANIT) within the Earth Systems Research Center at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), and was a collaboration of multiple partners. These included the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning (OEP), the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED), University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension (UNHCE), University of New Hampshire Information Technology (UNHIT), and the state’s nine regional planning commissions (RPCs).
The project had four main initiatives... mapping, planning, technical assistance/training, and capacity building/community assistance (described below). The project ended in 2015 and NHBMPP staff, working with staff from the NH Office of Energy and Planning, used the regional broadband plans to develop a statewide broadband report and recommendations titled “Broadband: The Connection to New Hampshire’s Future.” The 86 page full report and an 8 page summary can be downloaded here. (Link to reports)
In the mapping realm, GRANIT collaborated with the nine regional planning commissions to map areas in the state where broadband service was currently available, as well as areas with no service and areas that were considered underserved The mapping inventory relied on data collected semi-annually from the 70+ public and commercial entities, both landline and wireless (fixed and cellular) that provide broadband services in New Hampshire. Data was also collected on broadband availability at individual community anchor institutions, including schools, libraries, medical/healthcare locations, public safety offices, and state/county/municipal buildings. Finally, the mapping component included a significant effort to develop the first public master address file for the state.
The mapping data provided an important baseline assessment for new Hampshire, and facilitated effective dialog in the state regarding use and demand for broadband services, and assisted the state as it worked to prioritize infrastructure projects and to build a sustainable broadband framework in the future. In addition, results from the NHBMPP were provided to the NTIA and the Federal Communications Commission to assist in the development and maintenance of the national broadband availability map,
During the NHBMPP project, 2010 – 2015, NH’s Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) established Regional Broadband Stakeholder Groups (BSGs) in each region consisting of stakeholders representing education, health/medical, businesses, public safety, government services and residents, to review and discuss broadband-related issues. Together the RPCs and BSGs worked to: conduct analysis to determine broadband needs specific to targeted sectors; identify barriers to broadband deployment, e.g. topography, density, regulatory obstacles, etc.; foster collaboration among government officials, business leaders, institutions, and service providers; and develop recommendations for enhancing broadband access, affordability and use. The results of their work can be found in the nine regional broadband plans. (Link to plans)
UNH Cooperative Extension (UNHCE) staff provided broadband technical assistance and training throughout the SBI project. They assessed broadband training and technical assistance needs of stakeholder/sector groups including: businesses, local government/communities, health sector, and educational institutions. Upon completion of the needs assessments, UNHCE developed training modules and conducted workshops throughout the state. In addition, UNHCE developed a series of broadband economic development and on-line learning modules.
NHBMPP staff worked with the NH Director of Broadband Technology, Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) and their respective Broadband Stakeholder Groups (BSGs), the NH Telecommunications Planning and Development Advisory Committee (TAB), and others, to identify broadband deployment and adoption barriers and potential solutions. They also worked to monitor state legislation pertinent to broadband access, affordability and use, and provided information to study committees.
In 2014, NHBMPP conducted a statewide broadband conference which brought together over 200 participants including; residents, community leaders, municipal officials, policy makers, small business owners, educators, healthcare providers, planners, and other stakeholders to learn about and discuss what is happening to expand broadband access, adoption, and use throughout the state. The link below provides access to recorded plenary sessions and breakout session presentations (link?)
In addition, a Broadband Solutions and Funding Toolkit was developed to support local broadband planning in New Hampshire. Sections cover organizing a committee of local stakeholders, informing your stakeholders about broadband technologies, assessing the state of broadband in your community, creating a community plan for broadband, implementing an action plan, and understanding funding options. Armed with this information, a community can enhance broadband access to meet future economic, education, and communication needs.
For Additional Information Visit