In the second round of funding under the state’s emergency broadband program, projects in four Monadnock Region communities have been awarded.
Gov. Chris Sununu announced during a news conference Tuesday that $14 million will be awarded to vendors who have proposed broadband infrastructure projects in rural areas of the state, as part of the Connecting NH Emergency Broadband Expansion Program. That money will benefit about 4,500 property owners across 17 towns, including Hinsdale, Hillsboro, Nelson and Stoddard, Sununu said.
“Allowing this high-speed connectivity to happen for those individuals, thousands of families across the state, is just a huge win,” Sununu said during the news conference.
School and business closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic have forced students and many workers to adapt to remote learning and working environments, which has highlighted gaps in Internet availability. Telemedicine has also been a concern, as patients look for ways to follow social-distancing protocols while also staying in touch with their physicians.
In June, Sununu announced that a total of $50 million in CARES Act money would be allocated to help connect properties that have been unable to get online or that struggle to with a reliable connection. Other communities included in the second round of funding are Bristol, Canaan, Clarksville, Colebrook, Danbury, Deering, Errol, Lempster, Loudon, Mason, Springfield, Stewartstown and Washington.
When he unveiled the recipients of the first round of $6.5 million earlier this month, Sununu said the state expects to spend at least $16.1 million of the $50 million originally announced. But that amount has been exceeded with the second round, for a total of $20.5 million allocated to date. Sununu said the state aimed high with the $50 million appropriation, adding that officials were unsure of how many applications to expect.
Projects in Stoddard were also included in the first round of funding. Using $477,000, 415 Stoddard properties will be connected, the governor’s office said.
Sununu did not specify Tuesday how much money will be sent to each of the towns in the second round of funding or how many properties in each community will benefit from those projects.
In Keene, Spectrum has applied for a $189,750 grant to help connect 76 homes on Hurricane, Daniels Hill, Langley and Chesterfield roads. These streets are all on the western side of the city, with the latter three in Keene’s southwestern corner. That application has not yet been approved.