Citizens in five Waldo County towns will be asked to vote on a proposal to create a fiber broadband connection for every home. This month, the towns are holding informational meetings in advance of their separate municipal votes.
Frustrated by slow and expensive Internet service, a committee in each town has worked for over two years to develop a better approach with the goal of providing equitable access to a fiber optic broadband network with fast upload speeds, providing a minimum of 100 HMbit/sec symmetric service.
Citizen responses to surveys indicated a need for faster Internet for education, telehealth, employment, business, and entertainment. The Southwestern Broadband Coalition Board of Directors reviewed an analysis of currently underserved areas and completed a feasibility study of providing fast fiber optic access to every home in Freedom, Palermo, Montville, Liberty, and Searsmont.
After extensive research, the SWCBC Board determined that the most economical and efficient solution was to create a municipal utility, owned by the towns, which would provide open access to internet services and operate at no cost to taxpayers.
The towns now seek inout from citizens on the proposal. Other underserved town groups, like Downeast Broadband, have done this with great success, providing much lower cost Internet and telephone service as a choice for citizens.
By providing a range of choices for Internet service, residents will not be limited to just one Internet provider and, instead of being dictated by one or few providers which offer low speed and spotty service in most of the towns, residents could select what Internet service best meets their needs and budget.
Informational sessions are being offered in each town to provide residents with results of the SWCBC research and fiscal plans for the proposed Interlocal Agreement.
A second meeting will then be held in each town to vote on the proposed nonprofit municipal utility. If approved as a nonprofit municipal utility, owned by the five towns, this utility district will engage with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to run fiber optic lines to every home, business, and public building in these towns. A copy of the Waldo Broadband Coalition Interlocal Agreement document is available in each town office.
A positive vote will be a step forward to getting a choice of services among providers. Children will have a better education using the internet, the rest of us will be able to work from home and access telehealth services. More information is available at https://www.swwaldobroadband.org
Informational public meetings and vote schedule for each town listed below:
Searsmont: Info: Wed July 20, 7 p.m.
Vote: Wed, July 27, 7 p.m. at Searsmont Community Room
Freedom: Info: Thu, July 21, 6 p.m.,
Vote: Thursday, July 28, 6 p.m. at Freedom Town Office Annex
Palermo: Vote: July 21 6 p.m. at Palermo Library
Liberty: Info: July 20 6:30 p.m.,
Vote: July 28 6:30 p.m. at Liberty Community Hall.
Montville: Two Info Sessions:
Tuesday, August 2, 6:30 p.m. and Wednesday, August 17, 6:30 p.m.
Vote: Tuesday, August 23, 6:30 p.m., at Montville Town House