Community leaders in Rockland, Maine, hope to soon move forward on the first stages for publicly owned fiber optic infrastructure. The community of approximately 7,200 people approved the project in a 2016 referendum, but city council members decided to put the project on hold until previous bonds were paid.
Time to Move Ahead
According to local media outlet Village Soup:
In November 2016, Rockland residents voted 1,886 to 1,471 to approve borrowing up to $400,000 for the broadband expansion.
At the time, then acting City Manager Audra Caler Bell said the money would be used to construct a high-speed fiber broadband network that would be the backbone from which service could eventually be extended all over the city. The $400,000 would create a system to link municipal and school buildings and key downtown locations.
“I can’t stress enough how important an opportunity this is for our future,” Councilor Valli Geiger said at an August 2016 City Council meeting.
She said Internet service in Rockland is too slow for people who want to operate businesses.
In 2015, residents in Rockland, Rockport, and Owls Head completed a survey which indicated that people and businesses in the area wanted and needed better connectivity. In addition to the expressed need for better Internet access, people in the area supported the idea of municipal involvement in taking steps to improve local connectivity. The majority of folks who answered the survey stated that they would be willing to switch providers from their current ISP to obtain faster speeds and better services.
Rockport made history back in 2014 when it became the first town in Maine to develop a municipal network. The dark fiber network allows the community to work with private sector ISPs.
City Manager Tom Luttrell told Village Soup that the city anticipates reviewing requests in early November from companies interested in the deployment project.