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August 28, 2018

Stonington working with Axiom to improve broadband service

Mainebiz archives
Mainebiz archives
Map shows the various wired broadband speeds that are available throughout Maine.

Axiom Technologies of Machias has submitted a plan to provide fiber optic internet service to Stonington.

Town Manager Kathleen Billings told Island Advantages she's hoping that funding would come from a combination of newly available state and federal grants, private funds and a potential revenue bond to move the town forward on the proposal. Axiom was selected to conduct an engineered infrastructure plan for the town, after the town issued a request for information in April to 10 internet service providers, the newspaper reported.

Stonington Economic Development Director Henry Teverow said the area experiences "a kind of middle purgatory level of service."

According to a post entitled "Why We're Pursuing Better Internet" on the town of Stonington's website, better internet would allow for:

  • Better health care in the form of telemedicine
  • Enhanced educational opportunities
  • Improved commercial opportunities such as allowing lobster dealers to tap into otherwise inaccessible markets.

Better internet would also attract entrepreneurs and people who work from home.

Several responses to the town's request for information were submitted. Axiom stood out, the post says, for its "thoughtful and creative response that seemed tailor-made for our town."

The town decided to embark upon an official planning process with Axiom in June.

According to Axiom's proposal, also posted on the town's website, Axiom's work with Isle au Haut could have direct impact on the company's work in Stonington.

"The planning work for Isle au Haut includes a direct wireless microwave link that would come from Stonington," the proposal says. "Creating a high-capacity link in the heart of Stonington to serve Isle au Haut could create an opportunity to work together."

Over the past decade, Axiom has designed and constructed more than 120 access points connecting more than 2,500 square miles in rural Maine, the proposal says. The company uses a combination of solutions, including fiber, wireless, DSL and TV White Space. The proposal says Axiom was proposing a "fiber-to-the-premise" solution for Stonington because it's reliable and easy to scale, delivers the same signal strength anywhere it is deployed and will last for well over 20 years.

Stonington presents some unique and challenging opportunities that will require a significant amount of engineering ingenuity, the proposal says. These include the presence of Spectrum in limited parts of the community, the distance from Route 1 and major internet infrastructure and the possibility that new internet service could include an expensive bridge crossing to get to the island.

Throughout Maine, gaps in high-speed internet coverage are hurting rural communities, affecting areas from real estate sales and tourism to in-and-out migration in rural areas across Maine, according to representatives of businesses and organizations who testified in January at the Legislature's Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs hearing on a $100 million bond issue to help fund broadband initiatives.

According to BroadbandNow, 97.3% of Mainers have access to internet of 10 Mbps or more, but 13% are underserved as far as quality of connection.

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