OTELCO announced there will be fiber construction to approximately 1,650 locations in Scarborough. The map above shows an approximation of where the build will be, highlighted in blue, and is subject to change should field conditions dictate as the final engineering is conducted. File photo courtesy of Tracy Scheckel

SCARBOROUGH — Telecommunications company OTELCO said preparation has begun to install fiber internet technology for 1,600 Scarborough locations, expecting the service to be ready in early winter 2022.

On Sept. 15, Town Council members spoke with Tracy Scheckel, marketing and public relations manager for OTELCO, who said the current plan for fiber internet in Scarborough involves installation beginning in February of next year. However, construction delays could occur.

OTELCO is planning to offer 150 megabytes, 500 megabytes and one gigabyte of speed to 1,600 locations in Scarborough, Scheckel said.

Fiber internet has less resistance than copper or coax cables, making a signal carry farther and stronger, she said. Faster speeds have been important for people during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many uploading and downloading information online.

OTELCO recommends people who are interested in the services visit the website otelco.com/builds, Scheckel said, to see if their home is included in the planned build. If service is not available, she said OTELCO still recommends people fill out the form.

“If we see an up rise in interest in an area that looks like it will make the numbers work for us, we’ll explore building there, so tell us you want it and maybe we will come,” she said.

The Town Council and public should appreciate the fact that OTELCO’s plan is a business venture, said Town Manager Tom Hall.

“They’ve seen an area that there seems to be a business opportunity,” he said. “That’s not to say there aren’t detailed discussions at the state, county and — I think you can have them at the local level, about expanding broadband ourselves over and above this investments. All is not lost, and I think a lot of that focus, given a state like Maine, the numbers, financially, just don’t work. There’s not the density to make a business case, but I think there’s a high, high public policy objective here statewide.”

Scheckel told councilors that the 1,600 locations were specific homes or addresses within Scarborough. OTELCO has scheduled builds through the middle of 2023.

“There is definitely an opportunity for collaboration down the road if the town so chooses,” she said.

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