A project that was mostly funded with federal stimulus money to expand broadband Internet access throughout New Hampshire has added 865 miles of new fiber-optic network cable that snake through all 10 counties, leaders said Friday.
The $63 million Network New Hampshire Now project, led by the University of New Hampshire, was funded with $44.5 million in federal stimulus money and $18.3 million in private support. The new cable network exceeded project goals by more than 300 miles.
At a ceremony Friday, government, business and University of New Hampshire leaders said the project was a good example of how a public-private partnership should work and sets the state up to attract and maintain employers, create jobs and improve education. Some 12,000 businesses throughout the state are now within 3 miles of a high-speed connection.
"Our state is a lot stronger today because of the collaboration you all have done," Gov. Maggie Hassan said.
The project initially was envisaged to connect 700 community institutions, including schools, libraries, medical facilities and government buildings. The 700 was later revised to 220 and in the end, 320 were connected.
About 250 jobs will be created or retained over the life of the project, plus uncounted spinoff jobs, compared with the 700 jobs originally estimated.
Besides the new fiber-optic cable, a system of 20-mountaintop sites will improve communication among public safety and transportation agencies.
Joanna Young, chief information officer at UNH, and Scott Valcourt, the project leader, said Friday's celebration isn't the end.
There is currently one related project underway to see how to use the "white space" of television broadcast frequency vacated with the transition to digital signals as a way to improve wireless connectivity in remote areas. Another project would create a separate broadband pipeline for heavy-duty scientific research.
The New Hampshire project was part of $3.7 billion in broadband grants provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
"While today marks an important accomplishment, there is still much work to be done," Young said.