Tracking Initiatives Across Maine
Connecting communities to the resources needed to move broadband projects forward is a founding value of the Maine Broadband Coalition. We believe that keeping public record of community-driven initiatives is a powerful tool for regions, counties, and municipalities to propel their own projects forward. Collaboration creates community, and communities create change.
Explore the map below to find out what's going on in every corner of the state.
If there's something you think we missed, please fill out this survey: https://forms.gle/hfKneBE1evX8Qi4n6
Click the drop-down buttons below to access stories from municipal and regional broadband projects going on around the state!
The town of Roque Bluffs, with a population around 300 and in rural Downeast, is a fantastic case-study for community-driven broadband projects. Residents found that the idea of expanding broadband service in-town was a tricky proposition: already partially served by an internet service provider(ISP), along with having low population and population density made Roque Bluffs’ broadband conundrum one that the market alone couldn’t solve.
With their context understood, Roque Bluffs formed a broadband committee with the aid of the Island Institute to pursue alternative solutions. Through the active engagement of their own community, the broadband committee was able to identify the needs and priorities of the town – and as a result, an optimal solution for their connectivity problem. In January 2020, they received a grant from USDA for $893,170 to build out a fiber network for 166 homes, 22 farms, and 16 businesses.
To find out more about Roque Bluffs’ community-driven broadband experience, check this piece out
Underway in the coastal community of Georgetown is a multi-million dollar full fiber to the premises(FTTP) build. Spurred on by the lack of reliable service provided by their incumbent ISP and feeling the acute connectivity issues brought on by the pandemic, the town’s broadband committee sought outside help.
Prioritizing a future-proof and reliable network, Georgetown opted to pursue a full fiber buildout despite its high cost relative to other solutions. The total price tag of the build is $3,712,043.00, and though the cost loomed large, a deeper dive into the numbers showed that it was feasible with the right funding strategy. Through a mixture of grants, community funding, and soliciting a willing partner ISP in Axiom, Georgetown hatched a plan for paying for the project. In June, 2021, ConnectMaine awarded the Georgetown broadband project $858,365.00 – nearly a quarter of the total cost of installation. The rest is to be made up by a mixture of public and private funding, with an expected start date of Summer 2022.
Learn more here: http://georgetownbroadband.com/
Eastern Slopes Regional Broadband(ESRB)/Maine West
As an outcome of the eight-session Broadband Boot Camp held by Maine West in 2020, the towns Brownfield, Denmark, Fryeburg, Lovell, Stoneham, Stow, and Sweden formed the Eastern Slopes Regional Broadband(ESRB) project. With low population density and partial coverage by incumbent internet service providers(ISPs), this region in western Maine faces similar challenges as much of rural Maine does when it comes to delivering high-speed, affordable broadband.
Nevertheless, they’ve organized, energized, and moved their project swiftly into a planning phase. In February 2022, ESRB secured a planning grant from ConnectMaine for $72,000. The grant will aid ESRB in determining the best path forward for the region – they hope to solicit help with survey work, network design, business models, and further funding opportunities.
Check out their webpage: https://esrbroadband.org/
Southwestern Waldo County Broadband Coalition(SWCBC)
Nestled between the coast and the I-95 corridor in Waldo County is a set of towns seeking a solution to their connectivity challenges. Frustrated by the inability to hold fundamental activities like Selectmen’s meetings, the 176 square mile footprint that includes Freedom, Liberty, Montville, Palermo and Searsmont came together in the midst of the pandemic. Like other regional initiatives, the five towns figured that working together would increase their ability to improve service.
With the help of the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments (KVCOG), they successfully applied for a ConnectME grant of $5,000 for the purpose of administering a survey to confirm the needs of the region. On the heels of the survey, SWCBC applied for another grant from ConnectME, this time obtaining $30,000 to be used for financial modeling. This second grant, with a separate feasibility study through Axiom and supported by ARPA monies, should provide SWCBC a solid foundation to make an informed decision about their desired network and allow them to apply for more funding down the road.
Read more about SWCBC here: https://www.swwaldobroadband.org/home
How to use the map:
To view the map legend, click on the box in the top left, next to the text "Maine Broadband Initiatives Tracker". You can select different layers of information and click on points to find more data on each location. We encourage you to explore each of the layers to get the most complete picture of what's going on all across the state!
For this conversation, we’re joined by Elaine Abbott, of the Sunrise County Economic Council, and Corrie Hunkler, of Healthy Acadia to talk about the work they’ve done in Washington County regarding the intersection of youth voices and broadband expansion efforts.
Much of the conversation revolves around a survey that Corrie and Elaine put together that sought to highlight the ways in which broadband expansion would impact the region's youth population.
Check out our other podcasts!
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