LebLinks - Linking Residents to High-Speed Internet in Lebanon
Lebanon is a key hub for the Upper Valley region. Adequate internet, which qualifies as broadband or better, is necessary for economic development (at-home businesses, remote workforce, competitiveness, property values, job-searching, etc.), healthcare/telehealth, distance learning, and public safety.
On July 1, 2020, Lebanon City Council reviewed a City Manager Report about Broadband/High-Speed Internet Access in Lebanon. The report includes a summary of federal, state, and local conditions at the time; the definition of “broadband”; a review of broadband “coverage” and performance speeds; identification of gap services areas in Lebanon; and a list of opportunities to improve digital access.
Broadband/high-speed internet performance is a minimum of 25 Mbps download 3 Mbps upload speed according to the Federal Communications Commission. Determine if you have broadband by running a test on your device. The level of performance that you need depends on how many and what types of usages there are in your household. The FCC has rough guidelines for speed requirements.
Types of Internet Service
In Lebanon, DSL, Cable, Satellite, and Other (e.g., Cellular Wireless) Internet are available to residential customers. Fiber optic internet is available for commercial/institutional subscribers. Fixed Residential Broadband Internet service providers (ISP) include:
- Consolidated Communications Website
- Hughes Network Systems
- Comcast Website
- Telephone and Data Systems
For those of you who have tried or heard of Starlink, that is an example of an internet service that is not “fixed”. Similarly, 5G cellular service for internet has limited but increasing availability, and we hope that this product helps to increase internet access as part of a diverse set of options that increase consumer choice and market competition in the long run. Most recently, the City of Lebanon has focused on fixed services because that is what federal funding is targeting. For more information, see the City Manager Report linked above.
What Is Being Done to Address the Digital Divide in Lebanon?
As of early 2022, there are approximately 142 “unserved” properties where the residents are not offered broadband via fixed infrastructure. Some may have existing Internet subscriptions, such as DSL, that do not meet broadband speeds. The City is working with ISPs to bridge the gap.
As a first step, the City will utilize $60,000 in American Rescue Plan Funds along with $535,000 from Comcast, to extend broadband to the remaining 142 homes, as well as to the City’s new Airport Industrial Park, Area 1B. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. The project includes “long drops” which are long driveways. Under Lebanon’s franchise agreement, long driveways are usually not included in the extension. The property owners are normally required to pay for the additional costs for longer extensions. We ensured the “long drops” were included in the agreement at no extra expense to the property owner.
For currently unserved locations on the project list, you will be contacted by the internet service provider to inquire about your interest in obtaining new service approximately 30 days prior to the estimated construction date. At that time, they will discuss property access needs and subscription options with you (note: homeowners are under no obligation to subscribe). In the meantime, it does not hurt for you to contact vendors to document your desire to learn more about their services.
There are also pending federal grant applications that may facilitate the addition of more Internet options in the City. The City is a partner to two National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) grant applications. One grant proposal would help bring “last-mile” broadband connections with fiber-optic service to Lebanon. The other proposal would provide high-level last-mile engineering designs and cost estimates for final designs in Lebanon and other parts of Grafton County, to improve the “shovel-readiness” of projects when seeking funding, and also bring 110 miles of middle mile “backbone” fiber to rural areas of Grafton County. The latter project is being organized by the Grafton County Broadband Committee. The City is aware that additional federal funding grants may be made available and will coordinate with ISPs as fit.
Affordable Connectivity Program
If you are part of a household that would benefit from more affordable broadband internet service, you may be eligible for discounts. To learn more about the Affordable Connectivity Program and the steps for enrollment, you are encouraged to visit FCC.gov/ACP, which includes application links and a Consumer FAQ. See the News Flash “Need Help Paying for Internet? Apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit.” for details.