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August 3, 2017

Belfast receives grant to evaluate and plan for broadband internet

Photo / Tim Greenway
Photo / Tim Greenway
Susan Corbett, CEO of Axiom Technologies, which is working with Belfast to evaluate its broadband services.

About ConnectME Authority

The ConnectME Authority is a state agency whose mission is to facilitate the universal availability of broadband to all Maine households and businesses and help them understand the valuable role it can play in enriching their lives and helping their communities thrive. The authority's duties include establishing criteria defining unserved and underserved areas, promoting the use of broadband service, supporting broadband investment, facilitating state support of deployment of broadband infrastructure, collecting and disseminating information, and administering funds.

ConnectME Authority has selected the city of Belfast to receive a $15,000 Community Broadband Planning Grant for the purpose of creating a community technology plan.

Axiom Technologies, an internet service provider based in Machias whose mission is to close the digital divide and connect every home in Maine to quality high-speed internet, has been retained by the city to oversee implementation of the grant. Axiom has already partnered with more than a dozen communities and counties across rural Maine in similar planning efforts.

The technology plan will include:

  • Defining of community broadband needs and goals

  • Network planning and financial analysis

  • Assessing of municipal procedures, policies, rules, and ordinances

  • Digital inclusion and adoption

  • Economic impacts

  • Public outreach.

"The mayor and the City Council have previously recognized that the accessibility (or lack thereof) of broadband internet plays a significant factor when it comes to both community development and to business development," Belfast Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge said in a news release. "This planning grant, that they endorsed applying for, represents an important step in the effort to evaluate this issue and to develop plans and solutions."

Kittredge said that while Belfast has some positive factors related to broadband internet access, such as the 'Three Ring Binder' running directly through the community and the presence of multiple active internet service providers, municipal officials recognized that "access to broadband is certainly not equal throughout the community, and there is likely some role for the city to play in addressing that."

Over the next few months surveys will be distributed to Belfast residents and business community asking them to identify concerns regarding broadband, the costs of current service, where service gaps are present and what needs exist regarding future connectivity.

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