The Old Town Orono Fiber Corporation (OTO Fiber) vision for high-speed fiber Internet is taking shape. On October 26th, the first six miles of the network were activated, making service available to approximately 400 locations.
OTO Fiber constructed the 6-mile pilot portion of the network (a map of the buildout is included at the end of this release) with a combination of funding from the 2 communities and a grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission. OTELCO responded to a 2020 RFP to operate the existing 6 miles and construct an additional 49 miles that would serve a combined 3,550 +/- locations. According to the agreement, OTELCO was to begin offering service on the original 6 miles this fall and construct the remaining infrastructure to be in service by summer of 2022. OTELCO Customer Care staff took the company’s first orders on the 27th and installs began on the 29th.
One of the first subscribers in Orono was Matt Drinkert. Matt is a State Licensed Educational Interpreter for the Deaf. Due to demands for flexibility in educational settings, Matt has been required to work remotely more often via video conferencing. Currently, and for the last school year, he has been working in a virtual first grade classroom. “With this kind of work, the video feed is critical for me to be able to read signs and accurately interpret them,” he shared. He went on to emphasize that the buffering associated with his current inadequate connection poses a challenge to his work, even though he subscribes to the fastest service available to him. “It’s particularly a problem when my family is also at home trying to do video meetings and the neighbors are streaming video. I’m really looking forward to the speed and reliability of the Gigabit fiber service I subscribed to,” he commented.
Jeff Letourneau is the Executive Director of Networkmaine and Secretary of OTO Fiber Corp. Jeff has been a tireless proponent for connectivity throughout Maine. He said, “This has been a long time coming and I couldn’t be more pleased. The collaboration between OTO and OTELCO may have looked different than our original RFP envisioned, but it is a win-win for Old Town and Orono.”
“Reliable, fast connectivity is so important in today’s economy, and thanks to the activation of these 6 miles approximately 200 local businesses will have access to Gigabit speeds. I also anticipate that we will see an influx of new businesses once the news of this state-of-the-art network spreads,” commented E.J. Roach, Director of Economic and Community Development in Old Town and Vice President of OTO Fiber.
Belle Ryder, President of the OTO Fiber Corporation and Assistant Town Manager in Orono commented, “This vision has been more than a decade in the making, and to see it coming to fruition with installations beginning this week is so exciting!”
“Today, there is an abundance of public funding coming into play with the American Recovery Plan Act, and although the OTO Fiber initiative predates ARPA, it is a model for a public-private collaboration exemplifying the responsible use of public funds. We are proud to be a part of it,” commented OTELCO CEO, Richard Clark. Clark also encouraged residents to visit https://www.otelco.com/lp/
OTELCO has an interactive map to help Old Town and Orono residents see if their location is part of the build. Visit https://www.otelco.com/lp/
From left to right: OTELCO installation team, Jeremy Butler, Jordan Shain, and Ed Smith
Otelco Inc. provides wireline telecommunications services in Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont, and West Virginia passing more than 67,000 locations. The Company’s services include local and long-distance telephone, digital high-speed data lines, transport services, network access, cable television and other related services. It also provides competitive retail and wholesale communications services and technology consulting, and managed services. For more information, visit the Company’s website: www.otelco.com.
ABOUT OTO Fiber Corporation
Old Town – Orono Fiber (OTO Fiber) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation formed with three members, the City of Old Town, Town of Orono and the University of Maine System. OTO Fiber was formed to improve the access to ultra-high-speed broadband for businesses and residents of Old Town and Orono. For more information visit the Corporation’s website: http://www.otofiber.com/