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Content tagged with "islesboro me"
Maine’s Antique Capital Aims to Propel State Into 21st Century With Better Broadband Access
The Searsport Broadband Committee is pushing forward with a plan to bring a Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network to town residents. The committee hopes to hold a special town meeting soon, where residents will be asked to vote on a bond to pay for it.
Searsport, Maine (pop. 2,600), known for being “the home of famous sea captains” and the “Antique Capital of Maine,” is certainly not an antique when it comes to the town's perspective on the necessity of broadband and the long-term benefits that come from investing in fiber.
“There’s a saying, ‘it’s future-proof,’” Searsport Town Manager James Gillway told the Bangor Daily News. “It’s so far ahead of what copper wire does. It’ll give us better connectivity, and we would run it, own it, like any other utility. That way, we can control the cost. We can be super competitive.”
The town recently put out an informational booklet to educate residents on what this network would look like.
The network is estimated to cost between $2.5 million and $3 million, with the town seeking state grants to help cover some of the costs. Residents will have the option to subscribe for $60 to $70/month with speeds going up to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps). Early news coverage suggests the town would contract with Axiom Technologies of Machias to be the Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Like many communities we’ve been covering over the course of the pandemic, working from home and distance learning has really put a spotlight on the need for fast, reliable Internet access in Searsport.
The town received a $13,000 grant that it applied for back in July 2020 to help boost it’s free public downtown Wi-Fi, which the town believes will “set [them] apart and make [them] more of a destination then a rest stop or pass through town.”
Islesboro Brings Affordable Gigabit to Island Living in Maine
Islesboro Municipal Broadband (IMB) is about to celebrate its second birthday. Instead of two candles on a cake, the community has around 630 lit Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) subscriptions to mark the occasion. With more than 90 percent of the premises on the island connected to the network, the community can revel in its accomplishment as it considers the future.
Super Affordable, Super Satisfied
Residents pay only $360 per year to connect to the gigabit service, which has become part of the "fabric of the island" says Roger Heinen, Selectman who's part of the Islesboro Broadband Committee. Property owners also pay a modest increase in property taxes to satisfy the municipal bond the community issued to pay for deployment. In total, most property owners pay less than $85 per month for gigabit connectivity and the optional voice service from GWI. In addition to bringing fast and affordable high-quality Internet access to the community, Roger says that its reliability is so consistent that he thinks people have forgotten what the situation was like before the community network served the island community.
Subscribers report high satisfaction with IMB on biannual surveys. While there are still a few people in the community that have not connected to the IMB, he speculates that those people aren't interested in connecting in any way.
Every connection in Islesboro provides gigabit Internet access and, according to Roger, the decision to limit offerings to one tier was a way for the community to reduce costs. There's no need for complicated inventories of different types of gear, they know that every premise has the same gear and level of service, making billing easier and more streamlined, and they received a substantial discount because they bought so many of the same type of electronics. They knew that standardization would simplify and reduce costs and wanted gigabit service because it accommodates future innovation that demands more capacity.
Islesboro, Maine, Finalizes Fiber Agreement To Mainland
Residents and businesses of Islesboro, Maine, are waiting eagerly to connect to their new Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) network this fall. Recently, the community finalized an important step when it signed an agreement with Central Maine Power Company (CMP).
One Piece Of A Larger Plan
In 2016, community leaders were already well into their efforts to bring better connectivity to the island community. They expected to lease poles from CMP to hang fiber, but CMP’s plans to install a new fiber optic line to enhance electric service soon became part of the community network design. The new cable installation was necessary to replace the original 1955 cable to the island and to to serve as a redundant line to a cable that was in stalled in 1992.
Network planners asked CMP to include a fiber line within the 3-mile undersea cable running across the Penobscot Bay. The community will lease CMP’s fiber, which will connect to the wider Internet on the mainland.
“We are delighted with CMP’s cooperation in providing our community with access to their fiber currently crossing Penobscot Bay,” said Islesboro Town Manager Janet Anderson. "This timely and affordable solution allows us to quickly complete our broadband internet system."
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Islesboro first began investigating how to improve Internet access on the island in 2012 with a Broadband Working Group. After three years of study, appealing to incumbents, and analyzing options, they decided to invest in publicly owned infrastructure and work with a private provider that will offer Internet access. The community voted to bond for the network, estimated to cost approximately $3.8 million.
Islesboro, Maine, Releases RFP For Scope B Of FTTP, Proposals Due July 26
Last year, Islesboro released a Request for Proposals (RFP) in their search for a contractor to complete Scope A of their Fiber-to-the-Premise (FTTP) network. Now the community is ready to move on with Scope B and recently released a second RFP for Construction Services for Fiber Optic Broadband Infrastructure. Proposals are due July 26, 2017.
Trading In DSL For Fiber
The town’s 600 year-round island population grows to more than 2,000 during the summer. As we’ve reported in the past, Fairpoint DSL serves much of the island, but residents are tired of unreliable, slow Internet access. They’ve decided to invest in publicly owned infrastructure and work with a private provider who will offer services across the community.
The city website describes the project:
The Town of Islesboro is currently constructing a Fiber-to-the-Premise network. The network will span approximately 50 miles of fiber backbone, 40 miles of fiber drops, and a microwave wireless component connecting outlying islands. The FTTP network will provide universal access to gigabit service for approximately 675 homes and businesses. Construction of the outside fiber plant was previously awarded via a "Scope A" RFP process. Installation of equipment and services at the premise was previously awarded via a "Scope C" RFP process. The Town is now conducting a "Scope B" RFP process for the installation and testing of the transport and access electronics housed in the Point of Presence building. Please see the documents listed below for complete information regarding this Request-for-Proposals.
Notification of Intent to Respond: June 22, 2017
Mandatory Pre-bid Conference Call: June 29, 2017 11:00 A.M. (EDT)
RFP Questions and Answers Conference Call: July 6, 2017
Written questions due: July 13, 2017
Proposals due: July 26, 2017 1:00 P.M. (EDT)
Committee Nixes LD 1516 in Maine
Today in the Maine Legislature, the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology voted unanimously to stop LD 1516, a bill that would restrict local telecommunications authority. After Tuesday's compelling testimony, when it was time for a Wednesday vote, LD 1516’s sponsor moved the bill be shelved.
On Tuesday, May 2nd, the Committee of Senators and Representatives met to listen to testimony on the bill. We’ve provided audio of the public hearing.
South Portland, Islesboro, the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council, and Rockport all sent experts with knowledge about developing public projects to testify in opposition to the bill. Representatives from GWI (the ISP working with several local communities that have invested in their own Internet infrastructure), the Maine Municipal Association, and the Mayors’ Coalition also testified against LD 1516.
Communities where publicly owned fiber is already improving local connectivity provided stories of how they tried unsuccessfully to work with incumbents. Page Classon from Islesboro described how incumbent proposals could be described as, “You pay for it, we own it, we charge you what we charge everyone else.” LD 1516 requires local referendums for such investments and Classon balked at taking such a proposal to the voters.
In South Portland, the city paid for construction of its open access fiber-optic network with general fund reserves. The language in LD 1516 restricts communities to funding through revenue bonds but South Portland uses its network to offer free Wi-Fi and to improve connectivity for municipal facilities. Under LD 1516, they would not have been able to make the investment.
Rick Bates from Rockport testified that the bill would force municipalities to contend with restrictions that legacy providers will never face and how those restrictions will not solve the problem of connecting rural Maine. Bates also took the opportunity to point out that organizations such as the Taxpayer Protection Alliance relies on misinformation and incorrect data, such as their erroneous assertion that Rockport has debt for its FTTH project.
Bill To Limit Local Authority Appears In Maine
Maine is the latest battleground for local telecommunications authority. A bill in the state’s House of Representatives threatens to halt investment in “The Pine Tree State” at a time when local communities are taking steps to improve their own connectivity.
"I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means"
Rep. Nathan Wadsworth (R-Hiram) introduced HP 1040; it has yet to be assigned to a committee. Like most other bills we’ve seen that intend to protect the interests of the big national incumbent providers, this one also has a misleading title: “An Act To Encourage Broadband Development through Private Investment.” Realistically, the bill would result in less investment by discouraging a whole sector - local communities - from making Internet infrastructure investment.
Large national companies have thus far chosen not to invest in many Maine communities because, especially in the rural areas, they just aren’t densely populated. In places like Islesboro and Rockport, where residents and businesses needed better connectivity to participate in the 21st century economy, locals realized waiting for the big incumbents was too big a gamble. They exercised local authority and invested in the infrastructure to attract other providers for a boost to economic development, education, and quality of life.
Not The Way To Do This
If HP 1040 passes, the community will first have to meet a laundry list of requirements before they can exercise their right to invest in broadband infrastructure.
HP 1040 contains many of the same components we see in similar bills. Municipalities are only given permission to offer telecommunications services if they meet those strict requirements: geographic restrictions on service areas, strict requirements on multiple public hearings including when they will be held and what will be discussed, the content and timelines of feasibility studies, and there must be a referendum.
The bill also dictates financial requirements regarding bonding, pricing, and rate changes. Municipalities cannot receive distributions under Maine’s universal service fund.
Connectivity In Maine Never Looked So Good: New Video
The Maine Broadband Coalition recently released a video on the value of fast, affordable, reliable connectivity in Maine. The group focuses on different needs in Maine and how better Internet access improves small business, home healthcare, education, and general quality of life.
The organization describes itself as:
[A]n informal federation of public policy professionals, educational institutions, businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals who care deeply about Maine’s economic future. An important purpose of the MBC is to assemble cogent, fact-based information to help public policy makers and Maine citizens make the best choices about building a robust and productive information technology infrastructure — decisions we are all facing right now. We welcome one and all to this effort.
In the video, they visit a couple of communities, including Islesboro, one of the communities that we've covered that has invested in publicly owned Internet infrastructure.
Check out the video fro the Maine Broadband Coalition:
Middle Mile vs Last Mile - Community Broadband Bits Podcast 214
Read the transcript of this episode here.
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Thanks to Roller Genoa for the music, licensed using Creative Commons. The song is "Safe and Warm in Hunter's Arms."
Islesboro and Rockport: So Near and Yet So Far (On FTTH Vote)
Rockport was the first community in Maine to build a fiber-optic network to serve businesses, but their pioneering initiative will not extend to Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH). At their annual town meeting on June 15th, the local Opera House was packed as citizens showed up to speak on funding an FTTH engineering and network design study. After an extended debate, attendees voted on the measure and defeated the town warrant to spend $300,000 on the project.
According to the Penobscot Bay Pilot, passions flared as a number of people stood up to explain their vote. Several people in support of the project had previous experience with life after fiber:
Deborah Hall, on the other hand, said she led an effort in another state to take fiber optics to 500 homes. That effort resulted in the fact that the “average resident is now saving 100 dollars every month in getting rid of Comcast.”
She recounted how the fiber optic system already in place in Rockport was a draw for her family to return to live in the town. They improved their Internet on [no-glossary]Russell[/no-glossary] Avenue by personally spending the money to extend the fiber to their home, and consequently “reduced our collective Internet and television bills by $155 a month. That’s over 50 percent.”
Rockport’s youth described their dilemma, living in a place where connectivity was less than adequate:
Thomas R. Murphy said he also grew up in town but said: “I am leaving this town to seek a technology career, and am moving to Austin. I have to do this because we do not have technology in this town.”
He warned that sticking with the status quo, residents were paying a company “to make profits and take profits to shareholders in other places.”
“We can keep our resources here and improve lives of everyone. This is an investment we need to make for our future. Costs can be spread thoughtfully by the town, and we can pay forward to the future of the town.”
Islesboro, Maine: RFP For FTTP Is Out There!
Islesboro is moving forward with plans to join Rockport, Sanford, and other Maine communities that want to improve connectivity for residents and businesses. They have released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to take them into the construction phase. From the Isleboro website:
The Town of Islesboro, Maine is seeking a contractor to manage the construction of a Fiber-to-the-Premise (FTTP) network spanning approximately 50 miles connecting 750 properties including a wireless component connecting outlying islands.
The Town is seeking bids for an Owner's Project Manager (OPM) to oversee fiber optic and wireless construction, network equipment installation, and inside wiring and customer premise installation.
Bids are due April 28th, 2016.
The island town has also published a Question and Answer update to address common concerns.
The Maine Event
We have followed news of the proposed project, and learned that GWI will likely offer services via the publicly owned fiber infrastructure, much like in Rockport. Fairpoint DSL serves most of the island community's residents now and subscribers are not happy with unreliable, spotty Internet access. Last summer the community began the process of approving funding for the network, estimated at $2.5 - $3 million.
For more information, visit the Islesboro website.