December 31, 2018

Redzone completes 2018 expansion, with more to come in 2019

File Photo / Tim Greenway
File Photo / Tim Greenway
Michael Forcillo, left, vice president of sales and marketing at Redzone Wireless, and Jim McKenna, Redzone's president, are pictured in Portland in March 2016. Last week, Redzone announced completion of broadband networks in four towns across the state, adding that its plans to expand to another 25 towns in 2019 will be announced in January.

Redzone Wireless LLC announced completion of broadband networks in four towns across the state, and said plans to expand to another 25 towns in 2019 will be announced in January.

The Maine-based broadband innovation and services company has completed the construction of new wireless broadband networks in Farmington, Dover-Foxcroft, Machias and Calais, which adds 20,000 homes to its network.

In a news release Friday, the company said its Maine coverage now exceeds 270,000 households -- representing 45% of all Maine homes -- and across 75 communities and their surrounding areas.

The company also announced that it has secured an additional multi-million capital commitment to expand wireless broadband to more than 25 rural communities in the state in 2019, bringing its total availability to more than 320,000 homes and businesses.

It will name the towns targeted for expansion in January.

Redzone's 5Gx fixed wireless broadband network operates on multiple wireless spectrum bands, including LTE on FCC licensed 2.5 GHz spectrum, and is considered one of the largest FCC licensed fixed wireless broadband deployments in the U.S.

The expansion area most recently completed was based on a large number of direct requests from residents and businesses in the markets, the news release said.

Jim McKenna, president of Redzone Wireless, said the expansion continues the company's commitment to underserved areas.

In 2018, the company expanded to underserved areas in Aroostook, Franklin, Piscataquis, Penobscot, Waldo, Washington and York counties, and communities getting access, besides the four recent ones, include Liberty, Washington, Orono, Old Town, Presque Isle, Fort Kent, Biddeford, Saco and Old Orchard Beach.

The four communities in the expansion are the most populated municipalities in the state's least populated counties and range from Farmington, with a population of 7,760 and Franklin's county seat, to Machias, with a population of 2,221, and Washington County's county seat.

The four-community expansion was privately funded, and represents the completion of Redzone's previously announced 2018 multi million-dollar expansion, the release said.

"I congratulate our team for executing our ambitious 2018 plan to provide improved broadband access to tens of thousands of additional Maine families this year," McKenna said.

He said the company received requests for broadband service from more than 35,000 Mainers in 2018.

The company said in March that 2018 community selection was based on broadband service availability data, in conjunction with thousands of requests Rezone received in the selected areas in 2017.

"While completion of Redzone's 2018 network expansion represents a significant accomplishment for Maine broadband connectivity, we recognize that too many Mainers are still without adequate broadband access in rural areas," said Michael Forcillo, Redzone executive vice president. "While government efforts to subsidize broadband networks with public taxpayer funds appear to support technology solutions which lack economic feasibility, Redzone is actively solving the problem by increasingly delivering economically sustainable broadband access all across Maine."

Broadband expansion as an economic development driver has received increased attention in the state over the past year, and Gov-elect Janet Mills said it will be a focus of her administration. She underscored that last week by naming Heather Johnson, director of the state's ConnectME Authority, as her nominee for commission of the Department of Economic and Community Development.

ConnectME is the state agency in charge of bringing better access to reliable high-speed broadband to all of the state.


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