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Page 4 NEWFOUNDLAKELIFE.COM February 2021 Bristol Aims to Redefine Rural
First Phase of Bristol Broadband Now Completed; 2nd to Be Finished by May
 By Judith dorato o’Gara
Times are changing, and these days, says Bristol ‘s Town Administrator, Nicholas Coates, young professionals are choosing place over job.
“In 2017, our Economic De- velopment Committee started asking, how do we support local business, and how do we grow business locally and attract professionals from the outside? One thing we know is millenni- als; they choose place first, and then they choose the job,” says Coates. “They are looking at – what’s the most awesome place I can go ride my bike, swim, whatever. We’ve got lakes, rivers, trails, and mountains, but we’re not going to attract those folks if we don’t have key amenities – one, cell coverage, and two, high-speed internet.”
The initiative, Bristol Broad- band Now, has been a three- year effort to build a fiber to the premise (FTTP) network, that will enable fiber optic internet for residences, businesses, mu-
nicipal buildings and schools throughout Bristol and up to Plymouth, NH. Phase I of that plan was completed by Decem- ber 15th.
In this first phase, a 24-mile fiber route that passes nearly 400 Bristol residences and con- nects to the NetworkNH system at Plymouth State University (PSU), was completed by eX2 Technology, LLC of Omaha, Neb. This project was supported by a $1.52 million Connecting New Hampshire Emergency Broadband Expansion grant funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Secu- rity (CARES) Act. The second phase will provide the additional fiber backbone and fiber distri- bution required to connect all Bristol municipal, educational and commercial buildings and is being funded by a Northern Border Regional Commission grant and Town appropriation.
The Northern Borders Re- gional Commission grant was sought prior to the CARES Act
funding, says Coates.
“In 2018, we went to the
town and asked for money from the voters to match a grant from the Northern Borders Regional Commission, and we got it,”
someone build the system for us when the CARES Act money became available. We’d done all this planning for two years and figured we’d be really competi- tive. Nothing ventured, nothing
will have an internet option. “That whole neighborhood’s poles are owned by New Hamp- shire Electric Cooperative, and we put fiber on all those poles. It turns out, after talking to them for three years, that this year they launched a broadband company, and they also got CARES Act money to build out three or four towns up north,” says Coates. By May, he says, the piece that connects the schools and town buildings will be built, he says, and the town will consider in- ternet providers. In addition, the town is looking to partner with research and development ac- tivities supported by Bouchard Opportunity Fund, established by Sir Michael Bouchard to benefit the Plymouth Opportu- nity Zone and areas connected to it like Bristol, to close the loop from 3A back up north to Plym-
outh State University.
“When you close the loop,
it provides network reliability, and along that route is the sci- ence center at Tenney Moun- tain. Those are and will be high paying jobs, and we’re creating this ecosystem for an econom- ically resilient community and region,” says Coates.
PSU President Donald Brix also believes the network will positively impact the region’s economy. “The installation of this new fiber optic infrastruc- ture in Bristol is an example of the substantial investment in New Hampshire’s economic future. Allowing residents in the northern regions of the state to have access to the latest in high- speed internet technology is a boon for our faculty, staff, stu- dents and everyone in our com- munity.”
Coates envisions the network foundation being laid in Bris- tol being a national model for rural communities and hopes it will spur further development of a tech corridor along I-93 in Northern New Hampshire. “Guess what, you can have that job in Boston, too, you can just dial in, or even better, you can have that job here, because we have connections to high tech happening here.”
 says Coates. This would total $260,000 for the project. “We basically spent two years plan- ning, but we were struggling and couldn’t get anybody to in- sure it. We finally figured it out this summer, and it just so hap- pened we were ready to do the Request for Proposals to have
lost, so we went for the 1.5 mil- lion dollars, and we got it.”
The CARES Act required its projects to be completed by the end of the year. No easy task.
“We knew it would be a chal- lenge to complete the first proj- ect in such a tight timeline, but eX2 (which was chosen following through an RFP process) worked collaboratively and proactively with us to get the network con- structed on time so we could secure the grant funding,” says Coates.
“It’s gone really well. We’ve met our date, basically had to have everything complete, and the town had to have their docu- mentation into the Federal Gov- ernment by December 15th,” says Jay Jorgansen, COO of eX2 Technology. “The town had a plan, and they worked with us every step of the way with the local electric cooperative. Every- thing came together really well, including the weather.” Jorgan- sen describes the work that has been done as creating “a fiber optic backbone.”
“What the CARES Act proj- ect did was connect to existing fiber, basically running down River Road, back way from Plymouth State University to Bristol, all the way through the downtown and then back up to Rte. 3A,” says Coates. The CARES Act required a provi- sion of internet service to areas that weren’t fully served, and so now about 400 homes in Bristol

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