The town of Chesterfield, New Hampshire has agreed to pass a bond issue that will let the city pay for fiber-to-the-home broadband connections for all 3,500 residents. Chesterfield is the first locality in New Hampshire to use a new state law that allows municipal bond issues to pay for broadband connections.
Chesterfield is partnering with Consolidated Communications for the network. By using a bond issue, residents will not have to pay additional property taxes to fund the connections. Chesterfield will contribute $1.8 million through the bond issue and Consolidated will use $2.5 million of its own capital to cover the cost of building out the network. Consolidated said in a statement that it would provide gigabit connections to residents over the next 12-24 months without data caps or throttling. The company will also be offering a triple play video and phone bundle as part of its subscription service. Subscriptions will be available in pricing tiers based on chosen speed up to 1 gigabit. Subscribers will pay a $10/month “town infrastructure” fee as part of their bills to recoup the cost of the bond issue. Chesterfield officials say that as more subscribers sign up the fee will go down.
Consolidated has a rural broadband initiative underway internally, where it is working with states including New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont on service expansion using a combination of its own capital and third-party sources.
The bidding process for a partner started in November of last year. Alongside Consolidated, Argent Communications and WiValley submitted proposals.
New Hampshire towns were given the authority to issue bonds for broadband infrastructure when the state passed Senate Bill 170, sponsored by Sen. Jay Kahn and Rep. John Bordenet, last year.
According to a fact sheet from the city, current broadband coverage maxes out at 25mbps and only covers about 34% of the town. Speeds vary and can be as low as 3mbps. Residents have complained about the lack of service and local officials want to be able to support economic development by modernizing communications infrastructure.
“Having this type of partnership with Consolidated Communications provides a rural town like ours with innumerable economic development and quality-of-life benefits and opportunities that will, undoubtedly, have a lasting impact,” said Brad Roscoe, a former town selectman who has been leading Chesterfield’s broadband initiatives, in a prepared statement.