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Consolidated Communications’ latest public-private broadband partnership news is a bit different from some of the other public-private partnerships we’ve seen since federal legislators began making funding available for broadband buildouts during the COVID pandemic. The deal, pending completion of a challenge process, involves the town of Francestown, New Hampshire and funding from the state’s Broadband Matching Grant Initiative (BMGI).

That program provides matching funds for projects that otherwise would be too costly for the network operator to undertake. The BMGI program was funded through the federal Capital Projects Fund, which was established in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

New Hampshire is using $26 million, representing 21% of its CPF allocation, for the BMGI program.

As a U.S. Treasury fact sheet about the New Hampshire broadband program explains, “the BMGI will provide a state match that is designed to alleviate the fiscal impact of community-driven broadband investment for both ISPs and municipalities and reduce reliance on bonding.”

A Consolidated spokesperson told Telecompetitor that the company expects to provide approximately 39% of the funding to support the fiber buildout in Francestown.

“There is no cost for the fiber expansion to the community,” the spokesperson said.

In addition to creating the CPF, the American Rescue Plan Act provided funding to individual towns and counties that could be used for a range of infrastructure projects, including broadband. Some towns and counties have used that money to cover some of the costs of broadband deployments.

Where the Francestown deal differs is that funding came from the state, which made the decision to make the award. But according to a report from local media outlet Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, the local community was involved in a proposal process.

Consolidated’s history in northern New England dates back to when the company acquired Fairpoint operations there several years ago.

The company has won funding for broadband buildouts through state programs in Vermont and in Maine.

More information about New Hampshire broadband, including links to state resources and state-specific Telecompetitor coverage, can be found on the Broadband Nation page for the state.

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