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NEWS: Islesboro Becoming a Gigabit Island

Posted on by Edward Gaug

Pendleton_PointTown votes to build municipal gigabit broadband service

(Islesboro, Maine) At their annual Town Meeting on Saturday, Islesboro citizens voted overwhelmingly (145-23) to become Maine’s first gigabit (1000 megabits) island. The Town voted to construct and operate a municipally owned Internet service for the benefit of all the town’s homes and businesses. The $360 per year connect-everyone- to-a- gigabit service will help sustain the long-term vitality of the island’s year-round and summer communities. Rural communities like Islesboro can’t thrive without exceptional Internet connecting them to friends, family, e-commerce, off-island businesses, tele-health and entertainment. This vote helps make sure that Islesboro continues as a unique and vibrant place to live, work, visit, raise a family and educate children.

Town Manager, Janet Anderson said. “It came down to showing the voters how a municipally owned Internet system could be a benefit as well as a simple, good deal for them.”

Arch Gillies, chair of the Islesboro Select Board, stated “We thank the people of Islesboro for their serious and sustained interest and engagement with the Broadband Initiative over the past three years, particularly Roger Heinen, Page Clason, and Vern Ziegler, who managed the design and implementation of this Initiative. We also appreciate the expert attention given to this effort by the many companies like GWI of Biddeford ME who assisted this effort and who will help bring this vision to full fruition.”

“We are building a digital bridge to the mainland” said Page Clason, a member of Islesboro’s Broadband Committee. “By making gigabit Internet available to everyone at an affordable price, we will step to the right side of the digital divide. By building and owning our own network, we control our own destiny. Self-reliance has always been a strong island value.”

The vote on Saturday authorized up to $3.8 million in borrowing, according to the Town Assessor, Vern Ziegler. “We expect the mill rate to go up by about $.08” said Mr. Ziegler. “With that increase we still expect most people will pay less for far superior broadband than they do for their current service.”

The project started three years ago with a report produced by Tilson Technologies of Portland, cataloging the problems with the Island’s Internet access choices and outlining some potential solutions. In 2015, Tilson was retained by the Island to design a Fiber-to- the-Premise gigabit network that could serve the entire Town. Waveguide of Rochester, NH was selected to build the network and GWI of Biddeford will operate the network on behalf of the Town. J Sewall Company of Old Town, ME will be Islesboro’s project manager for the construction effort. It is expected the first customers will be connected in the spring of 2017, with all customers connected by the end of the summer.

“We are very excited to have an opportunity to provide gigabit service to an entire town” said Fletcher Kittredge, CEO of GWI. “In the past we have provided gigabit residential service, but only to portions of municipalities”. Kittredge praised the network design provided by Tilson and the support of CMP. “This project is moving forward due to the hard work, creativity, and vision of all parties involved and we are thrilled for the island and the possibilities this will bring to the community.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Janet Anderson, 207-734- 2253, manager@townofislesboro.com


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