Tiny Chesterfield, N.H., as regular readers know, floated a loan so it could get fiber-to-the-home installed by Consolidated Communications, the local phone company.
This isn’t “municipal broadband: as the topic is often understood because the system is not open to other competitors; people in Chesterfield will have to buy FTTH broadband from Consolidated. That compares to a system in small Baileyville and Calais, Maine, which is truly town-owned broadband and open to competition (details here). But it’s better than nothing, say Chesterfield folks who are tired of DSL or satellite broadband.
Chesterfield was able to do what it did because of a state law passed last year which allows communities to bond – take out long-term loans – for internet service. New Hampshire Business Review says, however, that other towns shouldn’t get their hopes up too high:
Approximately 20 other municipalities have reached out to Consolidated regarding interest in public-private partnerships, said Carol Miller, the state’s director of broadband and technology.
But Chesterfield’s success story is potentially an anomaly.
“My Consolidated contact is finding people are misinterpreting how far the Chesterfield models applies to everybody,” said Roscoe. “The law’s written so it covers 25/3 capability, not to get fiber. It worked out for us that it costs the same to do fiber or copper installation, and because of our town logistics.”
The whole story can be read here.
It also looks at a different route being taken by Bristol, which is paying for fiber backbone but not connections to buildings. I talked about it in December.
Consolidated bought into a horrible DSL network in Chesterfield, which Fairpoint did very little with after they inherited the copper lines from Verizon. The DSLAMs and COs were completely full, so that no new subscribers could be added, even if they wanted (I tried).
However, *HOW* are these DSL/FTTH/etc upgrades not corporate welfare? In getting SB170 passed, Consolidated now can bypass the state, and instead can negotiate directly with NH towns *desperate* for internet due to Fairpoint’s neglect. As such, they are saving 1/3+ of the cost of these long overdue upgrades AND get to keep the equipment once the taxpayers finish paying the bond. WTH. At least with VT’s rural broadband initiatives, the taxpayers get to keep their municipal systems after they pay them off.
Consolidated sent a VP to sniff around our town for bargains as well. He was very nice for months as this process unfolded, but once he learned the town was doing municipal broadband, he never returned anyone’s calls.
SpaceX’s Starlink can’t come soon enough.