ARROWSIC

Three island communities in the Midcoast are teaming up in search of high-speed internet service for their small and dispersed population.

While Arrowsic, Georgetown and Southport have internet access, many residents have claimed that the service is too slow and unreliable for their needs.

“Since the internet was first implemented (in this area), the demand has grown and outpaced the speed of the internet, so that not only affects the ability to take advantage of applications and data that people use, it is having a big impact on people who depend on it for their livelihood,” said Mark Aukeman, who has worked on broadband issues in Arrowsic and Georgetown for years.

Citizens in Arrowsic, Georgetown and Southport formed the Three Bridged Islands Broadband Task Force, a volunteer group that is working to attract a high-speed internet provider to the rural communities.

The volunteer task force is being guided by the Island Institute, a Rockland-based nonprofit that works with Maine’s island and remote coastal communities.

The task force announced Monday that it had issued a Request for Information to six area internet providers to conduct an engineering study to generate a cost estimate and business model to provide highspeed broadband in the rural communities.

Last year, the then-Arrowsic and Georgetown Broadband Initiative conducted a survey of the two communities that found overwhelming dissatisfaction with current services offered, with many respondents frequently unable to access the internet. People who telecommute, are self-employed or engage in e-commerce report being hard hit by the lack of dependable, high-speed internet.

Moreover, individuals looking to move to or vacation in the bridged-island communities are more and more frequently questioning the internet situation, said Aukeman.

While citizens in Arrowsic and Georgetown have been pursuing high-speed internet jointly for two years now, Southport recently joined the mix at the suggestion of the Island Institute. The additional community also presents the opportunity for providers to connect a fiber network in two places along Route 1, said the task force in a press release, creating a “very attractive redundant loop for a provider.”

“There are technical reasons why we like this,” said Aukeman. “Being remote islands, having a connection to the infrastructure that goes along Route 1 is a pretty critical lynchpin.”

The three-town endeavor was coordinated in part by the Island Institute, said Aukeman.

The task force expects to select a firm through the RFI process by the end of October. The engineering study, which will be funded by the towns, the Island Institute and local businesses, should be completed by the end of February. That study will allow the towns to decide how best to move forward in bringing highspeed internet service to the communities.

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Study status

AN ENGINEERING STUDY, which will be funded by the towns, the Island Institute and local businesses, should be completed by the end of February. That study will allow the towns to decide how best to move forward in bringing highspeed internet service to the communities.



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