NHEC & NH Broadband partner with Conexon for major fiber-optic broadband project

Companies aim to bring high-speed internet to rural NH communities

New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) has entered into a partnership agreement with Conexon, a national fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) rural broadband solutions provider that works exclusively with electric cooperatives, to deliver high-speed internet to NHEC members in 118 communities who now lack it.

The partnership will enable NHEC’s new subsidiary, NH Broadband, to take the next steps in its plan to ensure that all NHEC members have access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet.

A rural fiber-optic network design and construction management leader, Conexon works exclusively with rural electric cooperatives to design and build state-of-the-art fiber-optic networks. This year Conexon will complete construction of over 40,000 miles of fiber-optic networks for cooperatives across the country.

Conexon will work with NH Broadband to bring fiber-optic service to a wide area of rural New Hampshire that has been largely overlooked by existing internet providers. NH Broadband’s plan is to construct networks utilizing the latest XGS-PON technology. These networks will be capable of symmetrical download and upload speeds of up to 1 Gigabit per second – a technology that can meet the needs of NHEC members today and well into the future.

Through this relationship with Conexon, NH Broadband will begin critical planning and pre-construction work, positioning itself to hit the ground running when grant opportunities become available. As funding is secured, NH Broadband’s goal is to construct fiber-optic networks that ensure all 85,000 NHEC members in 118 communities across nine counties have access to high-speed internet. Under this plan, NH Broadband will make significant progress towards bridging the rural digital divide in New Hampshire.

The critical effort to expand rural broadband access gained new urgency as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, as the rapid shift to remote work and learning left many rural residents with slow or no internet connectivity struggling to keep up. As it did in the 1930s, when it brought electricity to rural New Hampshire, NHEC is committed to making this equally essential service available to all its members.

The project builds upon NHEC’s current FTTH project encompassing two of the cooperative’s communities, Acworth and Sandwich, that will provide fiber-optic access to nearly 1,800 underserved homes and businesses. Those networks are scheduled to go online in early 2022. One year ago, NH Broadband connected its first customers in Lempster, Colebrook, Stewartstown and Clarksville, when it completed fiber-optic networks utilizing a grant from the Connecting NH Emergency Broadband Expansion Program. Those networks are currently providing over 1,000 previously unserved NHEC members with access to world-class, high-speed internet service.

“We are thrilled to work closely with Conexon for this undertaking,” said NH Broadband’s Executive Chair Leo Dwyer. “With their expertise and the pending availability of federal and state grants, a wide swath of rural New Hampshire will finally be connected to priceless economic, educational and lifestyle opportunities that have been beyond reach until now.”

“We’re very excited to work with the New Hampshire Electric management team and board to serve their members with fiber broadband,” Conexon Founding Partner Randy Klindt said. “New Hampshire is in desperate need of world-class broadband and this project will go a long way in closing the digital divide within the state. It’s going to be transformative.”

Categories: Technology