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New internet service increases access in rural downeast Maine

BY Staff

2/6/2019

DownEast Wireless has launched Trailrunner Wireless, a fixed wireless broadband service making internet a reality in underserved downeast areas without the need for a fiber connection.
According to a Feb. 4 DownEast Wireless news release, the service utilizes an evolution in cellular technology to deliver high speed internet to rural areas on 4GLTE networks. Trailrunner’s networks are built and operated by sister company Wireless Partners.
“Our mission is to bridge the digital divide for rural America,” Bob Parsloe, CEO of DownEast Wireless and Wireless Partners, said in the release.
Access to cellular communication and broadband internet is considered fundamental to conducting daily life, economic development and public safety. A digital divide between rural and urban America is due in large part to the prohibitive infrastructure cost of fiber connectivity.
Trailrunner’s technology eliminates the need for the “last mile” of fiber by using excess spectrum on Wireless Partners’ 4G LTE network to deliver fixed wireless broadband service.
Downeast Wireless is a Maine-based, veteran-owned internet service company committed to bridging the digital divide in rural, under-served areas. Wireless Partners is a Maine-based, veteran-owned cellular telecommunications company that designs, builds, owns and operates carrier grade 4G LTE/VoLTE cellular networks to provide voice and broadband data services to unserved and under-served markets and support national operators such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint and their subscribers. The company has built, operates and continues to expand networks in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, currently totaling more than 60 towers.
Another Maine-based company seeking to close the Downeast digital divide is Axiom Technologies, founded in 2004 in Machias. Since then, it's taken on broadband projects around the state.
Recent ones include a partnership with Microsoft Corp. to tap into unused TV "white space," the void created when analogue television was discontinued, to bring broadband to rural areas that don't have access to other connections; formation of the National Digital Equity Center; digital literacy training; ConnectME planning; work with communities and economic development groups in downtowns as diverse as Millinocket, Waterville and South Portland to provide free wifi hot spots as a way to support economic growth.