DRED has published its ’Broadband Action Plan’ with recommendations on how to improve the penetration of high speed Internet service in NH. I attended a session in Plymouth last year to provide input on the plan.
Overall it’s a good report. I’m especially impressed with its recommendations to get State out of the way for access to land and towers, permitting, etc. Also, predictable, uniform, and competitive access to utility poles is a very important issue. They recommend the creation of a government office to oversee this work, but don’t set a recommendation for when that would would be finished. It may be necessary but this issue ought not be used to grow government in a permanent manner. This kind of communications infrastructure has the potential to really streamline government, so it’s probably a net-win to have the office. They’re asking for $100,000 for each of the next two years to fund the office, so it’s necessarily limited as currently proposed. A citizen of NH might expect to pay a dollar over the next few years to fund it.
I’ve noticed that Burlington Telecomm has been having revenue shortfalls and the ECFiberNet project, which I had high hopes for, has apparently abandoned the core attribute that made it exciting – that it would be self-funded, and has gone asking for bond money instead. That was always the uncreative option, but the private model made ECFiberNet free of coercion. That is to say, government-run models don’t appear to be very healthy, but where the government can act to get out of industry’s way or improve its monopoly grants we should welcome its action.
BT having revenue shortfalls? I don’t think that is an accurate description. I’ve spoken with folks from Burlington, and they are doing well. These projects take many years to break even and BT is near that.
As for ECFibernet, I’m fairly certain the plan was always to get funding via a capital lease – this is what Nulty knows best and how he intended to approach. Getting some money from Vermont was something they wanted just to show support from the state to get a better interest rate from private investors. The investors will be repaid with revenues from subscribers – so the network is self-funded in the long term.