Sen. Shaheen celebrates Wireless Partners’ 4G LTE network
By Edith Tucker
The Berlin Daily Sun
GROVETON — Following 18 months of concerted effort, Verizon broadband and voice service is available on the new 4G LTE network built by Wireless Partners. The four now-operational tower sites are Milan Hill, Errol on Route 26, Morse Mountain in Groveton, and Chapel Hill in Pittsburg-Stewartstown.
Bob Parsloe, CEO of both Wireless Partners, LLC and Great North Woods Wireless, pledged that Wireless Partners would continue to expand LTE service to Verizon and its future customers by constructing 12 more towers across Coos County in Phase II.
Parsloe was the master of ceremonies at a press conference on Friday, Dec. 2, called by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in the town meeting room at 10 Station Square.
Parsloe welcomed the standing-room-only crowd and thanked the many stakeholders on hand who represented public safety, economic development, executive and legislative leadership and local government, but keyed in on the ongoing advocacy, leadership and perseverance of Shaheen and her staff. Shaheen is a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, he noted.
Parsloe admitted that when he had publicly committed Wireless Partners to the project 18 months earlier at a similar press conference held at the Mountain View Grand in Whitefield, he had thought only a 90-day build-out period would be required.
“But we didn’t then have the infrastructure,” he explained.
He thanked Paul Ramsey, N.H. vice president of operations for Eversource, for ensuring that electrical power was made available to the tower sites.
The final step that allowed the network “to go live” was the required E911 testing, completed earlier in the week that enabled voice-over LTE including HD Voice, to be introduced to Verizon customers with compatible smartphones.
WP just signed a lease for office space in Chapman Industrial Park on the banks of the Upper Ammonoosuc River off Route 3, once home to both the Wausau and Groveton Paperboard paper mills. WP engineers are already at work scoping out sites for a dozen towers.
“Access to wireless technology and broadband Internet is essential to economic development and competitiveness in the 21st Century,” Parsloe said. And, thanks to this new network, it is now accessible in northern New Hampshire, he added.
Shaheen recalled that she had first taken up the cause of trying to bring cell phone and broadband service to the North Country two decades ago when she was governor.
“Today’s an exciting day for me,” Shaheen said, pointing out that its success can be attributed to both public and private sectors. She said she’d learned first-hand of the ongoing obstacles to public safety communications from both Customs and Border Patrol in Pittsburg, as well as from EMS crews and state Fish and Game conservation officers.
The new jobs coming to the industrial park in January 2017, when NSA Industries of St. Johnsbury, Vt., opens a 73,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Wausau’s former finish goods warehouse, would not, Shaheen said, have been located in town if robust four-bar cell service and high-speed Internet had not been part of the package, that includes water and sewer installations that local voters backed with bonds at town meeting.
Fifteen workers are already on payroll being trained, and NSA plans to hire up to 45 more skilled workers.
Shaheen praised the collaborative efforts of local, state, and federal governments. She supported the $1 million-plus grants that were secured this year for Groveton from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development and the Northern Border Regional Commission.
Commissioner Jeff Rose of the state Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) called the day “an almost transformational moment in the North County.”
The new cell and Internet services are now considered among the essential building blocks that are needed to support economic development, he explained. Tourists expect connectivity, and these services also allow the state to more effectively manage its lands, including easements held on the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Working Forest.
Rose called out the ongoing contributions of two key DRED staffers: Director of Broadband and Technology Carol Miller of Gorham and North Country Industrial Agent Beno Lamontagne of Colebrook and Plymouth. He also brought greetings from Gov. Maggie Hassan, who was unable to attend.
Sheriff Gerry Marcou of Gorham said that although he personally hates the impersonality of today’s technology, it’s now a necessity in Coös, which due to growing ATV use is turning into the state’s “playground.”
Still, the outgoing sheriff said, he remains skeptical that cell phone service will be available “to save lives and protect the public” in every backcountry nook and cranny.
Chapman Industrial Park manager Mike Stirling said he’s thrilled with this technological advancement because attracting new companies and jobs is literally impossible without cell service. To thrive, the area needs an infusion of youthful families, he said. Two more memorandums of understanding have recently been signed, designed to bring new companies to town.
“This is merely the first step that will have a positive effect on the whole county,” Stirling said. “Economic development will drive Groveton and the North Country.”
Parsloe praised WP’s whole in-house team.
He also commended state Senator Jeff Woodburn of Whitefield and Executive Councilor Joe Kenney of Wakefield, both on hand. Also on hand were Groveton selectmen Chairman Jim Weagle and Jim Tierney Jr.,
Rep. Wayne Moynihan of Dummer, Rep.-elect Troy Merner of Lancaster, Berlin Mayor and Coös County Commissioner Paul Grenier, Mark Scarano, co-chair of the Northern Border Regional Commission, headquartered in the James Cleveland Building in Concord. Also Northern Community Investment CorpAlso Northern Community Investment Corp. president Jon Freeman and vice president economic president Cathy Conway, and Coös Economic Development Corp. executive director Mike Scala and its former ED Bob DeAngelis, and Brian Bresnahan, representing Congresswoman Annie Kuster. president Jon Freeman and vice president economic president Cathy Conway, and Coös Economic Development Corp. executive director Mike Scala and its former ED Bob DeAngelis, and Brian Bresnahan, representing Congresswoman Annie Kuster.
Rep. Larry Rappaport of Colebrook, a member of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee who is wrapping up his fourth term this week, was missed.