Five Waldo County towns form new broadband utility district

Sun, 08/28/2022 - 6:00pm

WALDO COUNTY — With overwhelming support from each town’s voters, Freedom, Liberty, Montville, Palermo and Searsmont have formed the Waldo Broadband Corporation (WBC), a nonprofit “Broadband Utility District” that is to provide affordable, high-speed internet service to everyone in the five Waldo County communities, according to the newly formed Waldo Broadband Corporation, in a news release.

“After nearly two years of planning, meeting, mapping, data collection, a feasibility study and community conversations, the Waldo Broadband Corporation is moving ahead,” said WBC president Bob Kurek of Palermo. “The member towns held special town meetings in July and August, and the vote to create the municipality owned nonprofit corporation was nearly unanimous. People in our towns have very poor internet connections, or no connection at all. Now the WBC is prepared to help change that.”

The five towns have created an interlocal agreement defining the Waldo Broadband Corporation. Each town has named one member to serve on its Board of Directors, and corporate papers are being filed with the state of Maine and the IRS. The WBC’s first task is to create a Request for Proposals to begin the planning, design and building of a fiber optic broadband network that will be available and affordable to every resident and business in Freedom, Liberty, Montville, Palermo and Searsmont.

The WBC has retained Mission Broadband in Bangor as a third-party consultant to oversee issuance of the RFP (request for proposal) to 16 potential internet service providers, and to help evaluate responses to that RFP in the coming weeks and months. The WBC is also preparing to work with those internet service provider companies to seek financial support for the five-town network buildout from state, federal and private foundation sources.

“We have come a very long way from those first informal meetings in 2020,” said Kurek. “Five Waldo County towns are working together. And together we will make a future for our residents so they can work, run businesses, learn, get health services and be entertained through high-speed internet connections.”