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Meredith endorses, assists with LRPC wireless coverage project

January 17, 2019
MEREDITH — The town will help with a project to identify gaps in wireless coverage by endorsing a letter for a program and putting a special device in a police car.

During the Jan. 7 selectmen's meeting, Town Manager Phil Warren said the town received a letter from the Lakes Region Planning Commission regarding a project on wireless coverage. He said the LRPC's project has found some gaps and anomalies in coverage from in the area from different wireless providers.

The LRPC sent a letter (as found on the city of Laconia's webpage) to the federal delegation, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), and other interested parties dated Dec. 10, 2018 regarding the lack of adequate coverage in the Lakes Region, especially in rural areas.

"Poor quality or non-existent telecommunications services are jeopardizing the health and safety of our residents and are constraining economic development in New Hampshire's Lakes Region," the letter read.

The LRPC was taking part in the Federal Communications Commission's Mobility Find Phase II Challenge (MF-II) challenge making $4.53 billion available nationwide over a 10 year period in support to fill these gaps in 4G LTE coverage, namely in rural areas.

With help from PUC staff the LRPC was conducting a study of wireless coverage and coordinating data collection from several different municipalities to determine how much coverage was lacking. According to the letter data that had been collected showed that service availability from the major wireless carriers was overstated and major rural areas, including those around Routes 104, 25, 3, and 109, have service below the minimum of 5 Mbps required by the FCC. Additionally, 75 percent of the wireless grid is blocked with many areas difficult to access due to wetlands, terrain, and thick growth. The letter also said many residential areas display there is little to no available service.

The letter asks that the federal delegation, the PUC, and other parties provide more accurate coverage maps.

Warren said the LRPC was asking the Meredith selectmen to sign a letter endorsing the project as well as asking if the town would help by putting a device in a police car for a week. When the car drove around town, the device would log the wireless coverage in the areas it went through.

Warren asked the selectmen to vote to endorse the letter and take part in the program. This would be done with the approval of Police Chief Kevin Morrow.

"I recommend we vote to endorse that letter from (Lakes Region Planning Commission) and from an operating standpoint agree, with Chief Morrow's blessing, to put that device in a car a week to be selected," Warren said.

Selectman Nate Torr asked if this would cover everything the LRPC needs. Warren said they were just voting to endorse the letter but said he believed that was the case.

The selectmen voted unanimously in favor of endorsing the LRPC's letter.

Garnet Hill
Penny Pitou
Martin Lord Osman
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