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NH broadband gets $44.4m stimulus boost

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Network New Hampshire Now, an initiative led by the University of New Hampshire, received $44.5 million to expand broadband services thorough the state.

The funding is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The announcement was hailed in a joint statement by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Reps. Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire.

"We need to make affordable, high speed Internet available in every community across New Hampshire so that businesses can grow and create jobs," the statement read. "Network New Hampshire Now will create new opportunities for distance learning, health care delivery, and economic development, while connecting many homes and business to high speed Internet for the first time. This is a great day for our state."

The goal of the project is to build a high-speed network called the New Hampshire Fiber Network that would connect schools, hospitals, police stations, homes, and businesses throughout the state.

This project is part of the ARRA's $7.2 billion funding for broadband infrastructure.

The project would also develop a "Microwave Wireless Network," to improve communication between first responders and public safety officials.

The project has already faced opposition from at least one privately-owned telecommunications company.

"The major concern is that this is taxpayer dollars funding a public entity to compete with private business," FairPoint Communications Inc. spokesman Jill Healey Wurm said in a May interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader. "A good amount of (UNH's) application is what's called middle mile, which still doesn't deliver service to end users, and there is already significant capacity in the middle mile network that FairPoint built, that we call VantagePoint."

Wurm said VantagePoint offers high-speed Internet, or a three-way bundle including Internet, phone and DirecTV service, to 34,000 homes and businesses in 22 communities across New Hampshire.