Tag: "rockport me"

Posted August 22, 2014 by Tom Anderson

Rockport, a coastal town of just 3,300, became a statewide leader last month by launching Maine’s first municipal broadband network. Offering symmetrical gigabit speeds to businesses and residents, Rockport’s network is a carrier-neutral dark fiber system, with local private provider GWI offering retail services. 

The reach of the network is limited, as it consists of only 1.2 miles of fiber. While only about 70 homes and businesses currently have the option to purchase a connection, GWI offers symmetrical gigabit per second internet access for just $69 per month and the city has left the option open to expand the network in the future.

As noted in a Bloomberg View article on the network, it massively outpaces the only broadband competitor in Rockport, Time Warner Cable. Time Warner also offers a $70 service package, but its download speeds are 20 times slower and its upload speeds 200 times slower.  

The network was the product of a partnership between the town board, GWI, the University of Maine system, and Maine Media Workshops + College. Maine Media is a nonprofit college with 1,500 students learning photography, videography, and other digital media skills, and has a large economic footprint in such a small town.

Students’ coursework requires the storing and sharing of massive files, something that was previously difficult or impossible to accomplish given limited network capacity. Town officials are hoping that the new network will not only allow students to learn more easily, but enable them and others to establish small businesses in town.    

U.S. Senator Angus King, a vocal champion of broadband access, was among the officials on hand last week for the official unveiling ceremony. Speaking to the need for greater internet access, Senator King stated:

“In my opinion it’s exactly like water, it’s exactly like electricity, it is a public utility that is necessary in order for our economy and our country to flourish…We want to work where we live, rather than live where we work."

The total cost of the project is estimated at $60,000, half of which came from the University of Maine’s Networkmaine...

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Posted August 18, 2014 by Rebecca Toews

This week in Community Broadband coverage, Eldo Telecom is helping debunk some fiber fallacies. Blogger Fred Pilot responds to a typical Comcast claim that government should not compete with private sector telecommunications providers, saying the argument is economically false:

"When the public sector steps in to build and/or finance telecommunications infrastructure, it does so because this market environment combined with the previously mentioned business model limitations of investor-owned telephone and cable companies produces market failure on the sell side. That failure has left millions of Americans unable to order modern Internet landline-delivered services at their homes and small businesses."

And, as the debate heats up about whether cities can restore local authority to build networks, cities, towns and counties around the nation took action to expand or develop community broadband networks. 

Many media outlets, including Syracuse.com reported Mayor Stephanie Miner's frustration with a lack of broadband options. Miner announced this week that a publicly owned network may be in the city's future. Though many questions are ahead for Syracuse, including how it would be run and who would pay for it, the mayor agreed that high speed internet should be a public service: 

"Almost as important as trash pick-up and water... [it is] the modern day equivalent of infrastructure... It's clear that broadband is going to be a foundation of our new economy."

And, if Kanabec County, Minnesota officials have their way, they could expand broadband in unserved areas with a partnership and revenue bonds. The Kanabec Broadband Initiative asked county officials this week to consider selling revenue bonds to expand its high speed Internet. Marc Johnson, chair of the Kanabec Broadband Initiative:

"The effort would be similar to how rural electric and rural telephone initiatives got...

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