Monhegan Island, a small, inhabited land mass 12 miles off Maine’s coast, has no paved roads and a one-room schoolhouse. However, residents know that to sustain life on the 2-mile long by 1-mile wide island, access to high-speed broadband is necessary, reported Bangor Daily News.
Axiom responded to the island’s broadband request for proposal and recommended microwaving broadband from a tower in Rockland (on the mainland) to a tower on the island. From that island-based tower, fiber-optic cables will then be laid on the ground, individually connecting residences and businesses to the broadband network, according to the Daily News.
According to Broadband Now, Maine ranks 43rd in the U.S. in terms of residents having broadband access. A digital divide exists between residents who live in urban areas and those in more remote parts like Maine’s islands. Approximately 60 residents call Monhegan home year-round, with hundreds of people flocking to the island in the summer months.
“There are so many difficult things about living on an island. Broadband has come to the forefront as something that could improve the quality of life here by a lot,” said Jaye Morency, owner of the Island Inn and co-chair of the volunteer committee tasked with exploring broadband.
Monhegan residents began exploring broadband two years ago. Now, an $800,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, combined with Monhegan matching 25 percent of the total cost, plus a volunteer-led effort, is putting the island on pace to bring broadband internet to homes and businesses by summer 2021.
According to Kendra Jo Grindle, a senior community development officer at the Island Institute, increased connectedness with mainland-based services is one of the top reasons Maine’s island communities are looking to invest in broadband internet infrastructure. “Just because you choose to live somewhere doesn’t mean you should have to go without something that is no longer just a pleasurable thing to have. [Internet] really is a lifeline,” Grindle added.
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