In Maine alone, dozens of towns, counties, and economic development entities are working in regional groups to plan for community broadband deployment. In many cases, the public private partnerships formed by these regional groups open the door to additional funding and resources.
Individual communities across the US, including no less than 7 in Maine, have decided to invest their own resources to construct community broadband networks. Although no two implementation models are identical, many employ some degree of public private partnership with area providers.
The Broadband Coalition Conference will feature 3 speakers from outside of Maine who will share information about community broadband efforts and funding sources from other areas of the country. May 24 is the last day to get tickets.
Local ISPs are Doing Their Part
Many of Maine’s regional companies have also responded by investing their own resources to bring better, faster connections to their areas. Pioneer Broadband, Premium Choice, Lincoln Telephone, GWI, Axiom, and OTELCO, are just a few of the companies that are committing company resources to bring high-speed connections to new customers.
Many use ConnectME funds to help reach the most rural areas, some have committed to the Alternate Connect America Model (ACAM) and will build broadband infrastructure to eligible census blocks around the state.
Like any business, private ISPs like the companies mentioned above, need to make money and employ a business model that allows them to do so. Some of these companies were founded to provide rural telephone service more than a century ago; today without proceeds from the Universal Service Fund (USF), subscribers would pay a premium for service due to the high cost of service to a low population density.
Community Broadband Will Be a Slow Process without Additional Funding Options
Even with the current funding options, the deployment of functional broadband to every unserved and underserved location will be a long process, which is why additional resources are critical to true community broadband where everyone is adequately served.
Next week, we’ll take a deeper dive into OTELCO’s business model and efforts to expand broadband into the rural areas we serve in Alabama, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Vermont, and West Virginia. We’ll look at why we’re building in particular areas, what’s keeping us from building in others, and how we’re planning for future expansion.