Argyle Broadband Planning Updates

Steve Harris of the Broadband Committee, Barbara Veilleux, UT Director, and Tracy Scheckel of OTELCO explaining the project and fielding questions from the Commissioners at the County Commissioners Meeting.

Steve Harris of the Broadband Committee, Barbara Veilleux, UT Director, and Tracy Scheckel of OTELCO at the County Commissioners meeting.

March 30 Update

In case you haven’t heard from your neighbors who were on the priority install list, we are scheduling installations!  Please call customer service at 833-OTELCO-1 (833-693-5261) to schedule your installation, but keep in mind that if you have underground service, we’ll need to wait until the ground is thawed.

March 1 Update

We are on schedule!  For those of you who, in the planning surveys,  indicated that you will  purchase the service when it’s available, we may be reaching out as early as March 12 to begin scheduling your installations.

Please note: If your service is underground, we’ll need to wait until the ground thaws before we can schedule your installation.

February 22 Update:

We are on schedule in spite of Mother Nature over the past few weeks.  Check back on March 1 when we hope to have a more definitive date when we can start scheduling installations.

January 18 Update:

The project is proceeding according to schedule with splicing under way.  As long as Mother Nature cooperates, we expect to have construction complete by the end of March.  Once the OTELCO Customer Care team gets the go-ahead to schedule installations from Outside Plant Engineering, they will begin contacting Argyle residents who, when completing the planning survey, indicated that they wanted to purchase service. We’ll also send information out to residents by email and USPS.

December 8 Update:

The vast majority of strand and fiber is placed, nothing is live yet. The remaining construction, splicing and activation will occur in 2021, and barring anything unforeseen, the project is expected to be complete before the end of Q1.

October 14 Update:

Make ready is just about complete for the project.  In November, preliminary construction will begin, including some necessary right of way work and tree trimming.  Once this preliminary construction is complete, the project will move ahead and should be complete within 180 days.   It’s important to note that locations with existing underground service or those wishing for underground service will be at the mercy of the weather and will likely need to wait until late spring for connection.

July 2nd Update

On June 23, the Penobscot County Commissioners signed the TIF agreement that allocates $81,250 toward the construction of Lightwave Fiber to the Premise to approximately 134 locations in Argyle.  OTELCO has already started the pole application and make-ready process with Emera Power.  Make ready includes the placement of some additional poles and the relocation of some existing wires along the build route.  The make ready work is expected to complete by early November, at which point the build process can begin.

The construction time-frame is 180 days following completion of make ready, assuming that there are no delays due to extreme weather or other disaster.

We will continue to update progress here and via email.  If you’d like to receive email updates, please complete the form on this page.

May 27th Update

The ConnectME Authroity had approved our grant application for FTTP in Argyle!  Once attorneys from OTELCO and the County finalize the TIF agreement, the project can move forward.

May 11th Update

OTELCO has submitted the grant application to the ConnectME Authority.  The Authroity will meet on May 27th to make the award decisions.  Meeting notes and agendas, when published, as well as a link to see or listen to the monthly meetings can be found here.  Concurrently, OTELCO and Penobscot County are working out the terms of the TIF agreement.

March 18th Update from ConnectMAINE

Due to the COVID-19 Emergency, ConnectMaine is extending its grant application deadline until Thursday May 7th.  The Board will vote on awardees at the May 27th Board meeting, and award announcements will go out the following week.

March 17th Update

On March 10th, the Penobscot County Commissioners approved a TIF appropriation to OTELCO.  Currently, the County’s Attorney and OTELCO legal staff are working out the legal details of the TIF agreement.  Simultaneously, OTELCO is preparing the grant application to the ConnectMAINE Authority.  The application is due in early April and awards are expected to be granted at the end of April.

December 10th Update

The Penobscot County Commissioners met today and considered the proposal of the Argyle Community Broadband Committee to help fund the town-wide Fiber to the Premise (FTTP)  network.  Steve Harris of the Broadband Committee, Barbara Veilleux, UT Director, and Tracy Scheckel of OTELCO explained the project and fielded questions from the Commissioners at the meeting. The Commission indicated its support for the project and to provide funding up to $200,000 pending review by the County’s TIF Committee and depending on how much funding can be leveraged through an infrastructure grant from the ConnectME Authority.

The next steps after the TIF Committee review and formal vote by the Commission are for OTELCO to apply to the ConnectME Authority for the second phase of the planning funds for network design and simultaneously make an application for the construction of the infrastructure.

December 6th Update

At the last public meeting on September 30, attendees voted to have the Community Broadband Committee finalize a report on their findings for the Penobscot County Commissioners. The report has been finalized, including the results from the Community Broadband Survey, and will be presented to the Commission on Tuesday, December 10. County Commission meeting agendas are posted here. 

We will make the full report available after the commissioners have reviewed and commented, but you can see the survey results below.

Survey Results

  • Residents completing the survey represented a total of 92 (69%) of Argyle locations. 
  • 62 (67%) of respondents indicated that their current Internet speeds are inadequate for their needs.  Most residents who conducted speed tests indicated speeds of less than 3 /1 Mbps.  A few did report speeds of up to 10/1 Mbps. Eight respondents indicated adequate Internet and 22 did not answer that question
  • 66 (72%) of respondents felt that a town-wide fiber network would be beneficial to the community. Respondents indicated that their quality of life and place would improve if they could use the Internet to telecommute, access telemedicine, adopt on-line learning, stream content and surf the web.
  • 84+ (91%) of respondents indicated support for the use of county funds to augment OTELCO’s investment and potential ConnectME grant funds for a town-wide FTTP project. Five were undecided, and three indicated they did not support the use of county funds for a broadband project.
  • 86 (93%) of respondents indicated that they would purchase the FTTP service if the network were constructed. Five respondents stated that they were unlikely to purchase service, and one didn’t answer the question.

Thank you to all who participated in the survey.  We hope to provide an update later next week after the presentation to the Commission.

Fall 2019 Update

We are coming down to the wire when the Broadband Committee we’ll need to make a final review of the data collected and report its findings to the ConnectME Authority.  Community knowledge and input about the project is critical.  As of today, we’ve received completed surveys from 62 locations in Argyle.  In the next couple of days, if you haven’t completed a survey for your address, you’ll be getting a brightly colored envelope with a paper survey inside and a link to the on-line survey.

Even if you do not want to take advantage of faster better Internet, many of your neighbors do.  Please help us help them by completing and returning the survey.

If you haven’t yet, please complete the Community Broadband Survey. They are an essential part of this project. We only need one per household.

October 3rd Update

As part of our Phase 1 Planning Grant, OTELCO and the Argyle Broadband Committee held their second informational meeting on September 30th. The meeting resulted in a lot of great dialog between OTELCO, the committee, and the community members present. OTELCO reviewed Planning Grant details, possible funding models, the existing timelines, and what moving forward with the process would look like for the town. You can see all of that information in the slide show below.

One important topic that came up during the meeting was the need for more Community Broadband Survey participation. These surveys help us establish community broadband needs, gauge community interest in the project, and identify possible funding models. Most of all, survey submissions allow us to hear from you, the Argyle community, so we can determine how best to serve you.

September Update

On September 30th at 7:00 PM, the Argyle Broadband Planning Committee will be hosting their first informational meeting. The meeting will be at Alton Elementary School. OTELCO will be at the meeting to discuss the Community Broadband Survey results and to provide high-level information about the logistics of a town-wide build including an estimate of the cost. Penobscot County will also be in attendance, discuss potential funding mechanisms for a project, and the Broadband Committee itself will be talking about the potential impact that a town-wide fiber Internet network could have on the community. Make sure to be in attendance and to complete the Community Broadband Survey before September 22.

August Update

Great news Argyle, the broadband committee is assembled, and the first informational meeting has been planned for September 30th at 7:00 PM. There will be more details to come, so keep an eye on this page, and if you haven’t yet, please complete the broadband survey below!

July Update

Penobscot County on behalf of the Unorganized Territory of Argyle has been awarded a Phase 1 Planning Grant to work with OTELCO to determine the feasibility of building a Fiber to the Premise network in the town.

The process includes a community survey that we’d like a representative from every address in Argyle to complete. The survey is located at the bottom of this page. It is not necessary for residents of a single household to complete multiple surveys.  PLEASE NOTE: to better address ConnectME planning grant milestones, there have been important questions added to the survey since the first public information meeting, if you completed the survey from that meeting, please take a few minutes and complete the current one. THANK YOU!

There are several milestones that must be met in order to seek additional funding to move into a second phase of planning that would include the actual engineering of the network:

  • Finalize community vision and economic development goals
  • Assess existing infrastructure to develop a gap analysis
  • Establish a high-level budget estimate
  • Identify potential funding sources
  • Make a determination as to overall project feasibility

The first steps are to convene a Community Broadband Committee and to get surveys completed from every household.  We will post updates on this page as new information becomes available.

Tracy Scheckel at OTELCO and Barbara Veilleux at Penobscot County will be the primary points of contact until the Community Broadband Committee is established.

Community Broadband Survey

Please note: it is not necessary for residents of a single household to complete multiple surveys.