By Kaitlin Mulhere Sentinel Staff
View the full article on the New Hampshire Sentinal Source
A project to bring high-speed Internet connections to rural homes and businesses in the western part of the state is moving along.
Keene-based New Hampshire FastRoads announced this week it has secured $2.2 million of matching funds to move forward with its Internet broadband infrastructure project.
And FastRoads will complete the first phase of the project — building a network in the Upper Valley from Orford to Enfield — by late fall.
FastRoads is a collaboration of the N.H. Community Development Finance Authority, the Monadnock Economic Development Corp., and more than 30 communities in the Monadnock and Upper Valley region.
The FastRoads project will cost about $7.7 million. Nearly $5.5 million will be paid for through a federally funded grant from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.
That grant required that N.H. FastRoads match 30 percent of the project’s cost.
Of the $2.2 million raised by N.H. FastRoads, $1.25 million came from a loan from a partnership of seven community banks.
“It’s interesting to see that the community banks stepped up to the plate because they really can see what this will do for their community, their region (and) their clients,” said Carole D. Monroe, director of N.H. FastRoads.
The project’s timeline was pushed back a couple months partly due to time spent looking for financial support, Monroe said.
Since the broadband project is new and unlike most projects that banks back, finding the necessary matching money required some education and a lot of communication, Monroe said.
FastRoads will develop a “middle mile” network by bringing fiber-optic cable to 220 community anchor institutions, which will include schools, hospitals and municipal buildings down the western side of the state...