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March 30, 2018

Redzone announces its broadband expansion plan for 2018

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.

Redzone Wireless LLC, a Rockland-based 5G wireless broadband company, announced Thursday that it has begun a 2018 network expansion to further extend broadband services into 13 rural and underserved markets across Maine.

The expansion will address underserved areas in Aroostook, Franklin, Piscataquis, Penobscot, Waldo, Washington and York counties. Areas served will include those surrounding the towns and cities of Liberty, Washington, Orono, Old Town, Farmington, Presque Isle, Fort Kent, Dover-Foxcroft, Machias, Calais, Biddeford, Saco and Old Orchard Beach, the company said in a news release.

The area covered will reach more than 40,000 new locations in 25 different towns, according to Redzone. Once completed, the larger network will also serve as the foundation for delivering broadband service into many more underserved Maine towns.

“Redzone Wireless remains on the forefront of fixed wireless broadband network innovation, and we have advanced the reliability, capacity and speed of our 5Gx technology substantially over the last year,” said Redzone Wireless President Jim McKenna. “We are confident in both our 5Gx network and the ability of our team to execute on this ambitious plan to bring improved broadband services to thousands of additional Maine households and businesses in 2018.”

Redzone’s planned multi million-dollar expansion represents significant investment in next-generation broadband wireless infrastructure in Maine, the company said.

Community selection was based on broadband service availability data, in conjunction with thousands of broadband service requests received directly by Redzone in the 13 selected areas during 2017. Redzone’s broadband expansion is scheduled to be fully completed and operational in 2018.

Update on Phase 1 expansion in Liberty

Redzone also announced Thursday that it has completed the first phase of the expansion in Liberty, extending broadband wireless service to 500 new households in Liberty, Freedom, Searsmont, Appleton, Montville, Union and Washington.

The company also affirmed its participation in 2018 federal broadband development programs including the FCC’s Connect America Fund and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Connect grant program.

“While our privately funded 2018 network expansion is significant, we know that there are still too many Mainers living without adequate broadband access in rural areas that are difficult and costly to serve,” said Michael Forcillo, Redzone executive vice president. “We are exploring every opportunity to collaborate with strategic partners, municipalities and federal government agencies to make broadband access a reality for all Mainers.”

Redzone began offering broadband services in 2015, and provides wireless access to 225,000 Maine households across more than 50 communities.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, hailed the company’s expansion plans for 2018.

“It is good news for Maine's economy, educational opportunities and health care access when internet service providers invest in expanding the reach of their broadband networks,” he said. “Each new effort to leverage private and public resources to increase broadband access or improve consumer choice is a win for Maine and the future of our economy."

State and community officials throughout Maine have said the lack of broadband access, or adequate access, is affecting areas from real estate sales and tourism to in-and-out migration in rural areas across Maine. 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. The state Legislature is considering a $100 million bond issue that would help fund broadband initiatives throughout the state.

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