Broadband in Northern New Hampshire
The goal of this project is to enhance economic development in Coos, Grafton, Sullivan and Carroll Counties by addressing the problems of broadband access, affordability and use. This project will continue the efforts of the NH Broadband Mapping & Planning Program to 1) map and analyze broadband availability and 2) work with communities, organizations, and other stakeholders to enhance broadband access and adoption in order to support economic development activities in the region.
This project is consistent with the “telecommunications infrastructure” purpose as stated by the NBRC. It also directly addresses the NBRC programmatic goal of enhancing economic development in Coos, Grafton, Sullivan and Carroll Counties by developing an understanding of the region’s telecommunications infrastructure (using GIS-based technologies to map existing broadband availability), determining gaps in service, and promoting increased broadband access, affordability, and use. Finally, it furthers the job/education, health care, resource conservation, tourism, and economic development goals of the NBRC.
Improving broadband access and use in rural areas of NH will create and retain jobs, raise per capita income, and lower regional unemployment and outmigration rates. It will help businesses improve efficiency, expand markets, and increase revenue. In education, broadband can help provide more customized learning opportunities and extend learning beyond the classroom. Broadband can help improve patient health outcomes while controlling costs and extending the reach of providers. In addition, broadband allows local government to deliver services more efficiently and cost-effectively, and can enable robust public participation in community decision making. Public safety personnel can communicate quickly with each other, access online resources via personal computers or mobile devices, and transfer important video information during emergencies. Hence when available, broadband use not only improves the economy but the overall quality of our lives.
Project components will include:
1) Data Collection to support broadband availability mapping will rely on multiple input mechanisms. First, we will acquire and process FCC broadband availability data, collected at the census block level. Second, we will collect local address-level data via the broadband speed test tool available on the NHBMPP web site (http://iwantbroadbandnh.org). For residents without Internet access, the NHBMPP hosts an online survey that can be completed at any public computing center, or residents may complete and submit via US mail a hardcopy user survey. The third major data collection component will be aggressive marketing via social media of the speed test survey/tool(s).
2) Data Analysis of mapping results will be conducted by evaluating the speed test data against existing geospatial layers in the UNH GRANIT GIS Clearinghouse (http://www.granit.unh.edu). The analysis will be based on a definition of broadband that will be flexible and responsive to changing national parameters. Results will be shared with Coos, Grafton, Sullivan and Carroll County constituents, with communities, with businesses, and with providers as they consider deployment opportunities in the region.
3) Data Visualization will be accommodated by maintaining project results through the interactive web mapping tool available on the NHBMPP web site, and by generating map products and various graphical representations suitable for display at meetings and for incorporation in reports.
4) Outreach Meetings/Workshops will be conducted in targeted communities throughout the region to stress the importance of broadband and to enhance adoption and use. In preparation for the meetings/workshops, project staff will contact and set up meetings with organizations working to enhance broadband availability and economic development in NH (DRED, RPCS, UNHCE, etc.) to develop an understanding and inventory of their efforts in Coos, Grafton, Sullivan and Carroll Counties and to assess opportunities for collaboration. Key stakeholders throughout the counties involved in broadband expansion, affordability, and use will be invited to participate and host public meetings/workshops to discuss the importance of broadband for economic development and business, as well as for the education, healthcare, public safety, and government/municipalities sectors.