HIGH-SPEED INTERNET ACCESS FOR ALL
As part of the April 25, 2019 Selectmen’s Advisory Committee, each Selectperson in attendance shared current and upcoming town projects. The purpose for sharing stemmed from an interest in identifying potential opportunities for collaboration.
The discussion that soon emerged focused on the different towns’ efforts to explore what it would take to bring high-speed Internet access to all, which, simply put, would be both difficult and expensive. As a result, the Committee wondered if approaching the pursuit of high-speed Internet access would be a potential area for cross-town collaboration.
Pursuing high-speed Internet access as a region — rather than as individual towns — may be a more cost-effective way. It may also hold greater appeal for Internet service providers (ISPs) because a regional approach potentially would provide a greater combined customer base for them. The focus also seems appropriate for the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee to explore as it is an issue that would benefit both the individual towns and the school district.
A digital divide currently exists within the region, one that is characterized by a substantive gap separating those who have ready access from those who have restricted access or none at all. The difference in access can contribute to inequities in educational and employment opportunities, as well as options to participate in social and civic affairs.
Ultimately, the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee decided that this topic is worthy of further exploration. As a result, the decision was made to schedule a follow-up meeting to continue and broaden the conversation. Each Selectperson agreed to bring to the follow-up conversation a representative from their individual town who sits on their town’s committee that would be involved in investigating high-speed Internet access (e.g., Planning Committee, Information Communication Committee).