Broadband

Access to affordable, reliable, high speed internet is critical for the vitality of NHEC’s members and the communities we serve. However, due to the rural nature of the Co-op’s service territory, many NHEC members do not have access to these services. In response to this pressing need, NHEC is working to help ensure all Co-op members have access to broadband internet service.

NHEC is exploring various options to ensure all its members have access to high speed internet services.  Work has begun on a pilot project to connect approximately 900 NHEC members in parts of Lempster, Colebrook, Clarksville and Stewartstown. These pilot projects have been funded through the Connecting New Hampshire Emergency Broadband Program.  

NHEC WILL COMMUNICATE WITH ELIGIBLE MEMBERS WHEN SERVICE INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE. NHEC IS NOT CURRENTLY SIGNING UP MEMBERS FOR BROADBAND INTERNET SERVICE.

It will likely take several years for NHEC to make broadband internet service available to all members, however we look forward to bringing this essential service to members who have long lived without it.

Broadband Q&A

Why is NHEC working to provide members with broadband internet service?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus the critical need for high speed internet service throughout New Hampshire. For far too long rural communities have been disadvantaged due to the lack of high-speed internet. As virtual business activity, remote learning, and telemedicine have become the norm, the limited, often unreliable, services available in these communities today do not meet the needs of NHEC members.

Video conferences for business, or between a student and teacher, require a much higher level of connectivity and reliability than exists today in many areas. Even those with 25/3 Mbps internet service struggle to maintain their connections. These limitations, and ever evolving technologies, emphasize the importance of developing systems that will meet the needs of NHEC members into the future.

Electric cooperatives, like NHEC, played an essential role in bringing electricity to rural areas in the late 1930s. The same need exists now with high speed internet access. Today, NHEC provides electric distribution service to 85,000 members, located in 115 towns across New Hampshire. Our service territory extends as far south as Derry, and as far north as Pittsburg. Just as it brought electricity to rural New Hampshire over 80 years ago, NHEC is uniquely positioned to help bring high speed internet to these same areas today. Over 100 electric cooperatives across the country now offer broadband services to their members. NHEC is exploring options to ensure our members have access to this essential service.

What is NHEC doing to expand broadband access to its members?

NHEC is actively working with strategic partners to identify local, state, and federal funding opportunities and evaluate different pathways the Co-op can help ensure all member have access to affordable, reliable, high speed internet.

In July, NHEC made two applications for funding to support pilot projects through the Connecting New Hampshire Emergency Broadband Expansion Program. In August, the State of New Hampshire announced that NHEC’s projects to provide fiber optic internet service to approximately 900 unserved members in Lempster, Colebrook, Stewartstown, and Clarksville were selected for funding. Work has begun on these projects, and more information about service offerings, pricing, and locations will be available in the near future. These projects are the first steps towards a larger goal of ensuring all NHEC members have access to high speed internet.

In October, NHEC held a member vote to change the organization’s by-laws to provide the Board of Directors greater flexibility to respond to, and take advantage of, emerging funding and partnership opportunities. 88.4% of NHEC voting members supported changing the by-laws, which will provide the Board of Directors the authority to move quickly and evaluate all available options.  

How will NHEC be providing high speed internet service to its members?

NHEC’s goal is to ensure that all our members have access to affordable, reliable, high speed internet. There are many different ways NHEC can bring high speed internet to its members, including partnering with another organization that would build and operate a new network, accessing local, state, and federal funding opportunities, or by constructing the “backbone” network that other companies could use to offer services to members. The Board is carefully analyzing all options to minimize potential costs and maximize the benefits to members and the Co-op.

Will these efforts to expand broadband increase the price I pay for electricity?

The financial well-being of the cooperative and the affordability of our electric service remains our top priority. NHEC’s Board of Directors is evaluating different approaches to provide broadband service to all members to maximize the benefits and minimize potential costs. Members who take broadband service will pay for it, and over time offering broadband has the potential to reduce the cost of electricity service by creating new sources of non-electric revenues and potential cost savings. 

How long will it take before every NHEC member has access to broadband?

NHEC’s Board of Directors is evaluating different options to providing broadband service to all members. It could take several years before we achieve our goal. 

Will these efforts impact my electric service?

No. NHEC members will continue to receive the same high level of electricity service. In fact, having high speed internet available throughout NHEC’s service territory has the potential to help us respond to outages faster and more widely provide additional electricity services, like demand response programs. 

When can I sign up for broadband service?

NHEC is evaluating different options to best ensure all our members have access to affordable, reliable, high speed internet. As these efforts progress, NHEC, or partnering organizations, will reach out directly to members in areas when services become available. We will also continue to post updates on this website.

Why can’t another company provide broadband services?

Unlike for-profit telecommunications companies, NHEC is a member-owned, non-profit cooperative. We are governed by the democratic process and we are singularly focused on meeting our members’ needs. We believe that the cooperative model allows us to provide services to our members when others will not, because we are not limited by the requirement to generate profits for investors. This makes NHEC well suited to bring high speed internet service to unserved areas of rural New Hampshire.

What type of internet service is NHEC considering offering to its members?

Specific service offerings still need to be developed, but for its two pilot projects, NHEC proposed constructing an all fiber optic network, that could offer speeds up to 1 Gigabit symmetrical upload and download. NHEC’s goal is to build a network capable of meeting our members’ needs into the future.

I have a question not answered above, who can I contact?

Email us at broadband@nhec.com.

News & Events

October 20th at 10 am, NHEC held a virtual Member Meeting to announce the results of the Special Election bylaw amendments vote.  The meeting was recorded.

NHEC Members Approve Bylaw Amendments

PLYMOUTH, NH – Members of New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) have approved amendments to the Co-op’s bylaws that will provide its Board of Directors with flexibility to consider all options on how to ensure its members have access to high speed internet...

Voting Opens on Proposed NHEC Bylaw Amendments

PLYMOUTH, NH – Ballots are mailing today to members of New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC), who will decide if the company’s bylaws should be amended to make it easier for NHEC to provide access to broadband internet for its members. Members have the option of...