The Island Institute works with communities, local nonprofits, and town officials to help facilitate thoughtful planning around a sustainable economic future.
Through conversations with numerous island and coastal Maine communities, we consistently heard that residents and businesses alike lack reliable, fast internet service. For many, this creates barriers to education, business prosperity, community growth, and expanded social interaction. From these discussions along with subsequent research, multiple conferences, and our close work with island and coastal residents, we have identified that improved access to reliable internet, at minimum broadband level speeds, is an essential tool for attracting and maintaining year-round populations and encouraging diverse economic growth in line with the culture of coastal communities.
The Island Institute's Broadband Team supports community leaders through the development of working groups, financial and economic trainings, conferences, and the facilitation of discussions between community members, local officials, and internet service providers. Our team works with communities to secure state and federal funding, while also providing our own planning grants, to help limit the barriers many communities may face during the community-driven broadband process.
The process for obtaining broadband varies from community to community—from different financial structures to various ownership models. Our team has tailored an approach for working with each community as they define their priorities and implement their own unique path for bringing broadband to their community.
The Community-Driven Broadband Process
After working with over 30 rural communities, we discovered a pattern of how communities approach the challenge of obtaining broadband. The graphic below depicts the process of community-driven broadband.
Bring Broadband to Your Community
Knowing is half the battle. Large telecom companies have not made significant investments in the infrastructure of rural areas with small populations, and as a result, many rural areas have taken control of their own futures and have begun funding community-driven solutions.
To share stories around the challenge of planning for better internet, and provide additional resources to help communities here and beyond, we continue to develop our What Works Solutions Library. Solutions there include ideas for educating the broader community, strategies for working with service providers, and opportunities for funding broadband projects. Learn more at Planning for Better Internet and Funding Broadband Infrastructure, or check out our Broadband Resource List.