UNH Cooperative Extension

Broadband Internet: Involve your Community

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Broadband & Your Community

Improving NH's Economic Future and Quality of Life

Broadband is Like Electricity in the 1930’s

In the mid-1930’s electricity was commonplace in urban areas, but was largely unavailable in rural areas. The Rural Electrification Act of 1935 provided federal loans for the installation of electrical distribution systems to serve rural areas and an effort was underway to convince rural communities of the benefits of electrification. New electric machines could cut costs and increase productivity for farmers which could increase their standard of living.

Today, high-speed internet is common in metropolitan areas and can be a challenge for our rural communities. In its 2010 National Broadband Plan, the Federal Communications Commission noted that despite the technology’s spread, there was still insufficient access to broadband for many Americans. Disparities in broadband availability can mean disparities in economic growth, educational opportunity, community vitality, public health and safety, and quality of life. Broadband is integral to the state and its regions’ capacity to improve their economic future.

Broadband in Your Local Community

  • Business - to provide the tools they need to be competitive, communicate with customers and grow.
  • Education - to provide access to emerging educational opportunities, online resources, and one another.
  • Healthcare - to ensure patients in rural and urban areas have access to affordable healthcare services, and our doctors and hospitals have access to the digital tools they need for records management and delivering quality patient care.
  • Government - to ensure government is efficient and government services and information, at all levels, are more readily available to citizens.
  • Public Safety - to ensure law enforcement officers and first responders have reliable communications technologies to safely respond to emergencies quickly.
  • Residents - to ensure all people have access to important information and services they need.
  • Communities - to provide an array of tools that support civic engagement, economic development, and social interaction which help sustain vibrant communities.

Broadband Common Uses

  • Send/receive large files
  • Multiplayer network games
  • Work from home
  • Research at lightening speeds
  • Access video on demand
  • Webinars
  • Social media
  • Free phone calls (voice over IP)

Community Planning Essentials

Community Initiatives for Broadband

Organize and Lead

Addressing the broadband needs in your local community will take strong leadership and community support. Organize a local steering committee or a subcommittee of your economic development committee or planning board. Identify a local leader who can champion the effort. Be clear about your decision-making process. Leadership, broad representation and good decision-making are the foundation for expanding broadband in your local community.

Who to include in the taskforce Planning your meetings and decision-making Local Champion and Leadership

Community Inventory

It is important to understand what the current broadband picture looks like in your local community. You can see if your community is thinking about the need and uses for broadband, check broadband speeds and understand what should be in your cable franchise agreement. Doing a community inventory of assets and challenges will help you focus your future broadband efforts.

Review Leases for Telecom sites and ordinance regulating personal wireless service facilities and identify other municipal Assets

View the Toolkit

Local Planning for Broadband

Planning for broadband is important. At the regional level it is being done by the NH regional planning commissions. Some local communities have begun to plan for broadband now and in the future. You can include your broadband needs and goals in your municipal master plan.

Read your regional broadband plan (coming soon) Review your community Master Plan

Identify Your Options for Expanded Broadband

There may be a number of different options for expanding broadband in your local community. Many factors will go into your deliberations about the options. You will consider funding resources, infrastructure readiness, local regulations and community support.

Learn more about broadband option types Broadband Feasibility Matrix View the toolkit

Engage Your Community

Seek Community Support

Community support for the addition or expansion of broadband is critical to success. There are many ways to engage your community – start with a local steering committee and consider a speed test campaign or a community-wide survey to better understand the broadband needs. Getting community support early will help educate about the need for broadband and lead to long-term support for future options to expand and use broadband.

See a survey example from Greenfield, NH:

Survey Your Community

Share your assessment and your options with your community

Action Planning

The What, How, Who and When

A community inventory and decision-making by the steering committee will lead to an Action Plan. The Action Plan is the blueprint for moving forward to achieving your broadband goals. It will identify what you want to do, how to do it, who is responsible and the timeframe. The Action Plan can be developed by your Steering Committee and shared with local leadership and your entire community.

Helping Action Groups Succeed Components of an Action Plan


How do you compare with fellow Granite Staters?

Get Involved

Learn more and take action to bring broadband to your area

Resources and Links

View the Broadband Toolkit