Over 13,000 residents and businesses across New Hampshire will get broadband service for the first time as part of an FCC program to expand access across the country.
The FCC, through its Connect America Fund, is giving more than $4 million to Fairpoint Communications to expand broadband to rural areas in every New Hampshire county. Fairpoint will also kick in some money for the project, though the exact amount has yet to be determined.
Coos County stands to gain the most, with more than $1 million allocated to expand broadband there. Fairpoint will also have thousands of new customers each in Grafton, Cheshire and Carroll counties.
The first new customers may get broadband service late next year, according to Pat McHugh, Fairpoint's New Hampshire State President.
"Engineering is now in the process of trying to identify what locations are going to be served, and the timeline," McHugh says. "This is a six year program, so not everybody can be served at one time."
17% of Granite Staters lack access to what the FCC defines as high-quality broadband service. That number matches the national average.
According to McHugh, rural areas are often underserved because of their rural terrain and distance from existing infrastructure.