(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) issued the following statements in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) announcement that New Hampshire companies will receive $25,257,660 over 10 years from Phase I of the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) Auction 904, or the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, to expand broadband internet access in rural Granite State communities. Through this funding, Charter Spectrum, Consolidated Communications, NHEC Broadband and Starlink will expand broadband infrastructure in rural communities throughout the state, which will help bring high speed internet service to an estimated 17,740 homes and small businesses that currently lack it.
“The economic and educational impact of a lack of broadband services in more remote parts of the state have been seriously exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Granite Staters need access to reliable internet to work and learn from home, access essential health care services, stay in touch with one another, shop and so much more,” said Senator Shaheen. “That’s why this significant investment by the FCC is so important – it’s a step towards closing the digital gap between urban and rural areas in our state and ensuring all Granite State communities have access to the affordable, high speed internet they need. I will keep working across the aisle to build on this effort, strengthen our broadband infrastructure, and prevent communities in rural New Hampshire from being left behind.”
“These federal dollars will help expand internet access to Granite Staters, which is even more urgent amid this pandemic that has forced many of us to move our work and school online,” Senator Hassan said. “I will keeping working across the aisle to improve our broadband coverage maps so that our state receives the broadband funding that we need, and help expand broadband access to underserved communities across New Hampshire.”
“Access to broadband is crucial for Granite Staters who depend on high-speed internet for tele-health services, for work, and to receive an education,” said Representative Kuster. “This is especially true now during the COVID-19 pandemic, since the health, wellbeing, and livelihood of countless Americans is on the line as students are learning remotely, patients are receiving care through tele-health appointments, and employees are working from home. This funding will help ensure Granite Staters living in rural areas of New Hampshire have access to the high-speed internet they need to live, work, and thrive. I’m pleased to join my colleagues on the NH delegation to announce this investment in our state and I will continue my efforts to expand broadband and ensure all Americans have access to a high-speed internet connection.”
“This pandemic has underscored how vital reliable, high speed internet is to staying connected and remaining competitive in a 21st century economy,” said Representative Pappas. “These funds will go a long way in connecting Granite State residents and small businesses with the broadband they need to access ever expanding educational opportunities, e-commerce, and essential tele-health services. I look forward to continue working with the federal delegation to secure further infrastructure investments that move our state forward.”
Senator Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has long championed federal support for investments in broadband and infrastructure and has consistently included federal support in yearly government funding legislation. In fiscal year (FY) 2020 legislation signed into law last year, Shaheen successfully secured funding for a new program through the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) to support projects that increase access to high-speed broadband and enhance the region’s capacity for business retention and expansion.
Senator Hassan has worked to expand broadband coverage to underserved areas in New Hampshire and across the country. Senator Hassan successfully called on the FCC to extend the deadline for communities to challenge the accuracy of broadband coverage maps, which help determine billions of dollars in federal funding to expand broadband in rural and underserved communities. Additionally, Senator Hassan is leading bipartisan legislation to extend the current year-end deadline for states to use federal CARES Act assistance – as well as any future funding to state and local governments – through 2021, which will be particularly important for states that wish to use CARES Act funding to build out their broadband services.