Regional task force seeks broadband network design

Stephenie MacLagan
Posted 2017-05-10

The Down Bay Technology Task Force, made up of representatives from the broadband working groups of three island communities (Chebeague Island, Cliff Island, and Long Island), is seeking an engineered design for broadband infrastructure by the end of August. A request for information has been posted, and responses are due by June 16.

Chebeague, Cliff, and Long are unbridged islands in Casco Bay, Maine, that share a common vision for a more stable year-round community, with great economic and social opportunities, to attract and retain young families. These islands have identified the need for a long-term broadband solution that will last for decades. Broadband on the islands will help support economic, telehealth, and educational opportunities for the year-round population and allow summer residents to stay on-island longer. Broadband will also improve municipal services, including the ability to video conference and stream meetings and access training opportunities remotely.

The Request for Information will begin the process of finding internet service providers or other partnering firms who wish to design a broadband network that will provide at least a minimum speed of 25/10, the capacity for reliability even with seasonal saturation, and will be scalable to accommodate increasingly higher speeds over the next 10-40 years.

Current internet speed on Chebeague is 6/1.5 mbps. Cliff Island experiences quickly diminishing 7/1 mbps via a submarine copper cable from Long Island. A small portion of Long Island can access up to 15/1 mbps. The broadband network the task force seeks will reach all premises with consistent and reliable speeds regardless of the location on the islands.

With a high quality of life, a thriving fishing industry, easy access to the Portland area, and great schools, these islands are well poised to achieve our goal of building a stable year-round community. Broadband is a major tool for attracting and retaining young families, who are already drawn by the way of life and wonderful communities on these islands.

The three islands have been exploring broadband solutions for well over a year now, and hope that by issuing a joint RFI they will be able to leverage each other’s existing internet infrastructure. Chebeague Island established its own ISP, which was sold to Axiom Technologies in 2016. Both Axiom and FairPoint offer internet service on the island. Cliff Island and Long Island share infrastructure from FairPoint. Due to their close proximity to Portland, these islands are ineligible for a lot of broadband funding. The regional approach of forming the Down Bay Technology Task Force is a way for the island broadband working groups to cut the cost of bringing broadband to their communities.

Questions regarding the Down Bay Task Force RFI should be directed toward Stephenie MacLagan, Economic Development Associate at the Island Institute.

About the Island Institute’s broadband work

The Island Institute began working with island and coastal communities on broadband in 2015. Our Economic Development program works with these communities to facilitate thoughtful planning around a sustainable economic future. In order to support economic diversification, healthcare, education, and professional development, we are working to see Maine’s islands & coastal communities in the top 25% of internet speeds in U.S. We have supported the Down Bay Technology Task Force by facilitating meetings and helping to fund the engineered design for a broadband network across these communities. Each community has also contributed funding toward this regional project.

To find out more about our broadband work and resources available to communities in Maine and beyond, check out our resource page, or contact Stephenie