New Hampshire Broadband Access

Policy Options to Provide Broadband to Underserved Areas
PRS Briefs
PRS Policy Brief 0708-03
Friday, March 14, 2008

In spite of the many uses and likely economic benefits of broadband Internet access, several geographic and demographic factors suggest that New Hampshire's broadband Internet accessibility is not as prevalent as more populated and urban states throughout the country. In particular, New Hampshire's more rural areas remain underserved as roughly 30 percent of New Hampshire citizens do not have access to broadband internet service.

This report first introduces the reader to broadband Internet access' capabilities and then evaluates other states' projects that were designed to overcome similar barriers when promoting broadband access.

Findings were divided into four overall classifications:

  • Public service networks: States such as Colorado and Washington created a statewide high-speed network to transfer data for a part of the public sector, such as local governments or schools. The network then serves as a branching-off point for broadband carriers wishing to expand service to private homes and businesses.
  • Public-private partnerships: In Utah, private providers opt to pay participating cities to use the government-controlled network. In North Carolina and Kentucky, public-private entities consolidate broadband availability data and work to research, promote, and fund connectivity efforts.
  • Nearby states: Vermont and Maine have recently created statewide programs to promote Internet access through financial incentives and gathering information.
  • Collaboration beyond the single-state level: States can work with other states or receive assistance from the federal government. Compacts provide broadband to multiple states, such with the Wireless LINC project, the Mid-Atlantic SMART Organization, and the Connecting Appalachia Task force. On the federal level, USDA and HUD funding are available for broadband access expansion in rural areas.

The report concludes with five policy recommendations of best practices found among the different models for broadband Internet access.

These recommendations support:

  • A statewide advocate for broadband access
  • An assessment of supply and demand of broadband in New Hampshire
  • Aggregating demand to drive down costs
  • A program of financial incentives
  • A plan for collaboration between the public and private sectors and across similar regions