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November 10, 2015

Portland pursuing city broadband network

File Photo / Tim Greenway
File Photo / Tim Greenway
Fletcher Kittredge, CEO of GWI, at the broadband provider's data center in Portland in a 2014 file photo.

The city of Portland is seeking proposals to build a municipal broadband network to offer affordable high-speed Internet to residents and businesses.

City officials said in a news release Monday that they had issued a request for proposals to provide a fiber-optic connection from city buildings in downtown Portland to new municipal facilities on Canco Road northwest of the peninsula.

The Portland Press Herald reported that the proposal is similar to a plan South Portland announced last fall, a plan Sanford announced in September and Rockport's completed 1.6-mile fiber network.

"We're very excited about the possibility that this project could bring with it an added bonus for a large portion of our residents and businesses," City Manager Jon Jennings said in a statement. "Giving our citizens a path to affordable high speed connectivity will spur economic development."

The city's RFP has two options — a cheaper one that would only connect the Canco Road buildings to either Ocean Avenue Elementary School or Ocean Avenue Fire Station and a more extensive network that would serve as phase one of an open-access fiber network for the city.

The second option would connect the city's downtown facilities with Canco Road buildings and offer high-speed service to residents and businesses along the route. The city estimates that route would serve about 838 residences and more than 350 commercial properties.

Fletcher Kittredge, CEO of Biddeford-based Great Works Internet, which won the bids in Rockport, South Portland and Sanford, told the Press Herald that Portland's estimates would make it the largest municipal broadband network in the state. Kittredge said GWI is interested in bidding on the Portland job.

The city prefers the second option, city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin, told the Press Herald. She said Portland residents don't have affordable access to high speed broadband.

Bids are due Dec. 10.

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