Just as electrification was critical to transforming rural American life in the early 20th century, broadband deployment holds the potential to enhance rural life at the beginning of the 21st. High-speed internet is becoming increasingly indispensable across a variety of sectors and dimensions of daily life. Businesses need broadband to promote themselves and communicate effectively with clients. Students rely on the internet to access learning materials and remote learning opportunities. Patients of all ages—from older adults seeking consultation with medical specialists to young adults in need of mental health counseling—are beginning to depend on telehealth services more and more. While broadband may enable modern conveniences such as streaming movie services, the benefits offered by expanding broadband access run much deeper and are in many cases life-changing.
SWRPC is taking a number of steps to help Monadnock Region communities expand broadband access. For example, SWRPC plays a key role in organizing and facilitating meetings of the Monadnock Broadband Group, which comprises municipal officials, staff, and other broadband stakeholders interested in collaborating on broadband issues. The group discusses a wide range of topics, including broadband-related legislation, funding strategies, broadband mapping, and lessons learned from local broadband projects.
In an effort to help provide guidance on broadband implementation issues, SWRPC recently developed the Monadnock Broadband Implementation Guide. SWRPC also played a key role in developing the Southwest NH Broadband Plan, which aimed to better understand current levels of broadband service, identify challenges and barriers to improved broadband access, and plan for increased broadband availability and utilization. The plan was last updated in 2014 and continues to serve as a guide on broadband issues today.