At last night’s, 8/30/18 Selectboard Meeting, there was a discussion of the FCC Mobility Challenge. The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is providing organization and logistic support for the process. The PUC has phones, data plans and testing software. There is a volunteer from the PUC who will travel into each participating town and do a drive-around — or boat-around, if the town has a large waterbody with poor road access – with volunteers who know the local geography.
The FCC has said it will make an area eligible to request money from a $4.5 billion, nationwide pot to build out new cellphone infrastructure in underserved areas. Unfortunately, carriers in NH have told the FCC that the state south of Coos County is well covered. So the FCC requires an area to show through on the ground testing that the area has less than 4G LTE standard speed service, which is a minimum of 5 Mbps download speed. This means the area must test at least 75% of each square kilometer it wants to include in the new infrastructure coverage footprint.
The PUC has found that driving on accessible roads takes between 1 and 2 days per town. The PUC can supply maps with the FCC 1- km square gridlines and local road names ahead of time for route planning. The PUC maps are accurate with regard to presence of roads at about 90%. They found that a small per cent of mapped roads don’t exist, and a small per cent of actual roads aren’t mapped.
To get started, The Town of Walpole needs to find volunteers who will donate up to 2-days to drive around. Volunteers with off road vehicles or hikers able to cover non-road areas area also needed after the drive-around data is mapped (PUC will supply the mapping as well).
Please spread the word that volunteers are needed. Many locations in Town are “dead zones” with no or limited coverage. By finding volunteers to assist with this project, there would be an improvement for all who are seeking better cell phone service within the Town of Walpole.
Those interested in volunteering should call 756-3672 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The Selectboard would like organize this project quickly since it’s been a few months since we initially heard that the program existed from Senator Jay Kahn.