Maine wants more broadband choices, according to a survey of 775 residents of Cumberland County. Complete results are available here, as reported by the PressHerald.com. County officials commissioned the report, which was largely funded by a Community Development Block Grant.
Respondents did not complain about the service so much as the lack of choices regarding service providers. “I think the high percentage of respondents that are willing to have the government step in and build and operate and own a network, that surprised me that there was that level of support,” said report author Brian Lippold of Casco Bay Advisors. “And interestingly, the respondents were pretty evenly distributed around the county.” The amount of support for a municipally supported plan to compete with private telecom companies was unexpected.
The report noted a high level of interest in fiber to home broadband service, not currently provided by big players Spectrum and Consolidated Communications. Cumberland County spokesman Travis Kennedy said that the information gathered by the report would be invaluable to regional communities who may be considering offering their own broadband product. “Our goal for the document now is to get as many hands on it as possible, and for communities’ purpose, they can decide what they want to do with it,” he said. “If they want to put it in a desk drawer until people start asking questions, that’s their prerogative. If they want to present it to their town councils as a means to get them thinking about the issue, that’s great. If they’re already sort of interested in moving in a direction, it hopefully will provide them some guidance.”
Kennedy added that there are no plans afoot to build a county-wide fiber to home network at this time as the estimate cost for such a project starts at $200 million. Lippold pointed out that existing carriers may read the report and step up to fill service gaps, especially if a subsidized network appears to be an achievable option. “It could be a viable threat, if you will,” said Lippold.
October 8, 2019