Terry Taylor (left) and Carlos Barrionuevo, two of Georgetown Broadband’s three managing members, celebrate broadband’s arrival on the island at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 2. Photo contributed by Gerogetown Broadband

Jim Peavey and his wife used to struggle for internet superiority in their Georgetown home.

If he streamed music, she would be booted off her work email. If she started a show on Netflix, his movie in the other room would grind to halt, foiled by the “spinning wheel of death.”

“It would bog down that easily,” Peavey said. “It was really untenable.”

But this October, Peavey’s Beaver Valley Road property left the ranks of the estimated 51,000 Maine households without access to adequate internet and became the first Georgetown home hooked up to a high-speed fiber connection.

After years of effort, a group of Georgetown residents have finally succeeded in bringing broadband, or high-speed internet, to their community, which they say will change the way locals work, learn and, yes, watch TV.

“We’ve got a ton of emails from people just like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening, I can’t believe these speeds,’” said Carlos Barrionuevo, one of three managing members of Georgetown Broadband. “For the most part, people are just crazy excited.”


It’s been a long journey to bring broadband to the island, said Barrionuevo, who started working on the project in 2015. Since a group of 10 local investors founded Georgetown Broadband in December 2020, the organization has signed up more than 60% of the town’s approximately 1,000 households, but delays to the “make-ready” process, which requires Central Maine Power and Consolidated Communications to prepare existing telephone polls for fiber optic cable installation, have kept residents waiting.

Continued make-ready delays will prevent installation on some parts of the island until the middle of next year, Barrionuevo said. But the company’s contracted internet provider, Axiom Technologies, has already hooked up over 60 households and plans to add another half-dozen to that tally each day for the next several weeks.

“We’re moving toward the day when I don’t have to talk to you about hanging stuff on poles,” Barrionuevo said. “I want to talk about what it means to be a connected community.”

As the rise of remote work, school and medical appointments has underscored the growing importance of reliable, high-speed internet, Maine has taken steps to improve access across the state, including forming the Maine Connectivity Authority. Armed with $150 million in federal and state COVID-relief funds, the quasi-government agency has developed several programs to help achieve Gov. Janet Mills’ goal of making high-speed internet available to all Mainers by the end of 2024, according to MCA President Andrew Butcher.

“We are well on our way towards addressing that and fulfilling it,” Butcher said of Mills’ 2024 connectivity goal. “Our reliance on digital infrastructure is not diminishing; it’s only increasing.”

Among the authority’s projects is the creation of a “Get Ready” program that will help teach interested communities how to develop their own broadband plans and apply for state funding.

Barrionuevo hopes the state succeeds in creating a streamlined process so that other communities can enjoy the benefits of broadband without having to repeat Georgetown’s multi-year odyssey.

“I know how hard it is to get it done,” he said. “But it is so worth it.”

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