Franklin Countys First News

Federal grant awarded for broadband implementation in Franklin County

A public broadband informational meeting held back in 2018.

FARMINGTON - The Northern Border Regional Commission announced last week that Greater Franklin Development Council has been awarded an Economic and Infrastructure Development grant to bring high-speed internet to six communities in Franklin County. The grant was awarded in response to a competitive application submitted by GFDC.

"We believe that this year’s awardees are among our strongest group thus far in Maine, and across all four Northern Border states," NBRC said in a press release dated Aug. 20.

The $1 million award supports a project that will provide high-speed fiber optic internet for the towns of Carthage, Perkins, Temple, Washington Township, Weld and Wilton, seeking to improve the ability of residents to diversify the economy, work and learn from home, establish home-based businesses, reverse out-migration and attract new residents.

GFDC Executive Director Charlie Woodworth welcomed the announcement, saying that the funds would be used to support a public/private partnership.

"Our solution for the county recognizes the need to be a public/private partnership where towns share in the investment along with the internet service providers (ISPs)," Woodworth said as part of a prepared statement. "We are now ready to begin our very first implementation project and the $1,000,000 NBRC award will go towards reducing the town portion of the required investment."

Woodworth said that GFDC was grateful for the recognition their project had received, including ConnectMaine Authority, DECD Commissioner Heather Johnson, Governor Janet Mills, the region's federal delegation, state Senator Russell Black and Representatives Tina Riley, Scott Landry, Randy Hall and Tom Skolfield. Woodworth said that GFDC was also grateful to its consultant, Brian Lippold of Casco Bay Advisors.

"Brian’s deep industry knowledge and perspective have been essential to our progress," Woodworth said.

The project would not be moving ahead without the dedication of each of the town selectpersons and the many citizens that have organized and are speaking up about the opportunity that broadband creates for their communities, Woodworth noted.

"This grant application recognizes the necessity of establishing public/private partnerships as viable solutions for our rural region," Weld Selectboard Chair Tom Skolfield said. "This NBRC request is for 10 percent of the project cost with the remaining investment coming from the provider, towns and hopefully the state. We believe this project will be a model for how other areas in Maine can approach this funding challenge.”

The Franklin County Broadband Initiative began four years ago as a grassroots effort by citizens that identified inadequate broadband as preventing rural Franklin County from growing and succeeding. The nucleus of this group was The Opportunity Center of North Franklin County. Through deliberate outreach and many conversations, each of the 22 towns, including the Androscoggin County town of Livermore Falls, plus the 14 townships, came to support a county-wide broadband initiative aimed at competing with connected urban neighbors. The initiative has received planning support from each of the towns and townships, ConnectMaine, Maine Community Foundation and the county commissioners.

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19 Responses »

  1. Congratulations Charlie and team. A lot of hard work went into this process and it is great to see some recognition of all that effort.

  2. Excellent, a positive step forward and potential to infuse new opportunities for this area. Well done for all who worked to make this happen.

  3. Yes I think this is a wonderful thing. But this will cost each household $177.98 a month, plus our taxes will be going up. Between $82.00 and $120.00. Also we will have to pay a connection fee of $400.00 for a pre-subscription or $1,500.00 if you do it after. I'm not sure how many families that can afford this. It will be great but at a very high cost. I will have to think very hard on whether I can afford this.

  4. Congratulations … a lot of hard work. It would be wonderful to see it brought to the Freeman / Salem area.
    People are passing these towns by because they don't have hi speed internet for working from home.

  5. This is great news for connectivity but ultimately SpaceX Starlimk service may provide affordable high speed satellite internet to the northern US (Maine included). You can sign up forced the wait list on their website.

  6. Much respect and appreciation for everything Charlie is doing. Rural broadband is the single biggest impediment to our local economy. However, the solution is already in the sky - https://www.starlink.com - if everyone signs up for updates the interest level will help speed up implementation.

    "With performance that far surpasses that of traditional satellite internet, and a global network unbounded by ground infrastructure limitations, Starlink will deliver high speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable.

    Starlink is targeting service in the Northern U.S. and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021."

  7. I'll wait until SpaceX gets up and going. They are putting new satellites up just about every other week.

  8. "People are passing these towns by because ..... ?"

    Be careful what you wish for.

    Everything Is Beautiful.

  9. A three page letter was sent to all Temple residents this month spelling out the advantages of this enterprise as well as what it would cost residents both in terms of taxes, hookup and internet/tv/ connections..Residents were asked to tear off the bottom of the third page indicating whether they wanted to know more about the project...with the possibility of an outdoor meeting where there could be a good exchange of ideas. I encourage people to do so and leave their paper answer in the drop off box outside the town office

  10. Hello Temple Resident
    If you have TV, fast wifi allows significant savings utilizing alternative streaming services and content providers. This will offset some of the monthly costs for broadband.

  11. @Private Planet
    What is the terrible horror that will upend us if they stop or even stay? How do you define this group?
    On the one hand, most people complain about taxes, then there's some of the same crowd that don't want any new business or God forbid..."OUTSIDERS"
    It cannot be both ways so think before writing.
    Progress is what started most of our small towns in Maine and then folks wanted it to stop; it did and in many places it never started again. High taxes and expensive services!

  12. I may be wrong, but most of the folks in my neighborhood are blue collar types. This seems like a hefty amount of money for those that spend most of their computer time on games or other online diversions. Our communities are relatively small and are overly burdened with taxes and are just getting by in this bleak time in our country. The case was being made about how it would increase jobs, raise the value of property, and bring valuable people into our communities! Come on. Were are losing people at a viscous rate in our very small towns.
    I hate to say it, but this feels like a 3 card monte that cost me some money when I was a younger fellow. Just a thought, but, could this be a clever way for the booming community just north of us to get the lesser fortunate to contribute to high speed internet on the back of the regular guy? Just saying, pick a card.

  13. I'm not a resident of Temple. I live in a neighboring town. But, I have friends that lives in Temple. I've read what was sent out that 'Temple Resident' and 'Jo Josephson' mentioned above. And what they reported is exactly what was sent to local residents.

    The amount that this will cost local residents is way to high and is completely unnecessary. I work remotely every single day using my Consolidated Communications connection. I've heard that the local School District had an independent study done to check student access. That report said that 92% of the Students have online access. And, that same school district is getting hot spots for homes that have multiple people using the same internet access to help out for any strain that there may be from having everyone at home using the same connection. In a community that so heavily debates whether or not we can afford more police, new fire engines, or the requirements to educate our kids, I think this is an unnecessary and a very large expense.

    This completely feels like a corporation expanding their reach at the cost of our local citizenry. If you want to pay a company $1500 to connect to their Broadband service and $177.98 each month there after, that's up to you. BUT, local residents shouldn't have to pay an additional $82-$120 on their taxes for you to connect to the internet when those resources are already out there. How is anyone okay with our taxes paying for the profit of a corporation?

  14. Tom Hello! I have Hulu $55.00 and internet $40.00, so it would be almost twice what I pay. Please a tax increase every year and the cost to connect. This is still a lot of money for a working household.

  15. I feel the cost of this project is too high for the population of Temple..Many residents here are on fixed incomes that can't afford the cost not mention the cost to the Town itself....I disagree that it will bring more "industry " to the town...1. We don't have a space for new industry ie. New stores 2. Dollar General is not coming to the Town of Temple. We live in a small town that most roads end/start. I feel this will be a burden on the residents of Temple...

  16. Congratulations to Charlie and the Greater Franklin County Development Council for winning this grant. This only makes clearer the failure of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners to fully fund the request to made to them earlier this summer. What high speed broadband cable internet will provide is a good deal more than what Consolidated’s DSL service offers us in Carthage. Without this upgrade, it is hard to see how small communities like Temple and Carthage can provide the opportunity for a larger proportion of their population to work from their homes remotely and to access the educational and medical services that are becoming available to cities and larger communities.

    It is natural for folks to worry about an increase in fees and taxes, but there will need to be assistance available for families and seniors who can’t afford it. To get hung up at that level, however, is condemn these towns and others throughout the county increasingly to backwater status with it being difficult for potentially more productive citizens and increasingly vulnerable seniors and families to stay.

    We live in the flow of large historical tides, driven especially by the development of digital technology, and we need to navigate them as a county and community. Charlie has been providing valuable leadership from his position in GFCDC, but we should also be looking critically during this election season at the performance of our current county commissioners on this important issue, and the thinking of new candidates. I find Fenwick Fowler and Tiffany Maiuri to be offering more productive perspectives and proposals than the current commissioners.

  17. Temple residents go to your selectmen and push to have this removed from your taxes. Its your money and if enough of you feel the same way then you have the right to vote this out because it effects your taxes.

  18. This is once again another example of horrible Corporate Socialism. Why are we making all of our citizens pay for this company to be able to provide services to just a few people? Not everyone wants or will use Broadband services. So why does everyone need to pay for this in their taxes? I can think of so many other programs that I'd rather my tax money go to than faster internet for a handful of people.

  19. as for satellite internet, I had this for 3 years waiting for internet to come up my road. it was spotty at best.. clear blue sky day- great coverage. cloud cover or weather- say goodbye to any connection. so before you think that satellite is the way to go, talk to ones that have had it.
    I pay more for internet than I would like and even then it isn't what these comments are stating they will be charged. seems awfully high and someone is making more than their fair share off that deal.

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