Why We're Pursuing Better Internet
Stonington, and rural towns all over coastal Maine, have so much to offer. There are incredible jobs to work, beautiful scenery to admire, wonderful and supportive communities, and a general quality of life that's pretty unbeatable. However, like all towns, we face our fair share of challenges, too. Our population has been slowly aging and declining since the 1960s--a worrying trend that doesn't bode well for a year-round working town. This aging and declining population needs more healthcare than ever before, and has also resulted in a decrease in attendance at the schools on the island. Not only do we need to take care of our parents and our grandparents, but we need to make sure that our children and grandchildren have a place to go to get a solid education, and we need to start attracting young families to the Island to bolster our year-round population. We also need to keep an eye out on the lobster industry, in which 70% of our economy is focused, and which has an uncertain future--diversifying our economy so that all of our eggs are not in one basket is yet another challenge to juggle.
In the past few years, towns all across Maine--towns facing very similar challenges to our own--have been embarking upon projects to bring better internet to their communities. Better internet allows for better healthcare in the form of telemedicine, which uses high-speed internet to remotely monitor patients with pacemakers, deliver mental health support, and so much more. Better internet also enhances the educational opportunities for children by opening the door to a planet's worth of information contained on the World Wide Web, and by connecting them to experts in all areas. Better internet allows existing lobster dealers to tap into markets that would have otherwise been inaccessible, thereby helping fishermen in Stonington sell more stuff. Better internet attracts entrepreneurs and people who work from home to towns looking for more businesses, helping support a year-round, working population.
In April of 2018, the Town of Stonington issued a request for information to around ten different internet companies operating in the area. This request for information, or RFI, was designed to solicit responses from internet service providers (ISPs) in Maine -- like Spectrum, Consolidated Communications, or Pioneer Broadband -- to see what they could to do improve the internet in Stonington. We did this because we recognized that improved internet can help us deal with so many of the same issues it's helping other towns in Maine deal with.
We received several responses, but one stood out from the rest. Axiom Technologies, a company dedicated to delivering high-speed internet to rural Maine communities, gave us a thoughtful and creative response that seemed tailor-made for our town. We decided to embark upon an official planning process with them in June, whereby they will draft an engineering study to see exactly how we can get state-of-the-art technology down to Stonington in a way that will benefit everyone here.
In the interest of keeping everyone updated with what we're doing, we decided to publish our RFI (click here) and Axiom's response right here where you can read them, and to continue using this page to post periodic updates on the progress we're making.
We hosted our second public information session on October 2nd of 2018. In it, we presented some of Axiom's designed network for Stonington: a system of fiber-optic wires delivering internet at the speed of light to anyone in town who wants it--a system with a 30-year lifespan, providing affordable, reliable, and consistent service to the community of Stonington. The worst-case-scenario, to-not-exceed cost of this system would be $3.0 million, and would most likely come in significantly lower than that. Right now, we're exploring funding options for this network--any options that wouldn't increase the burden on taxpayers (grants, private donations, revenue bonds, etc). Look at a proposed map of the network here.
We will be hosting our next presentation for the public on January 10th, 2019, at 6:00 PM on the second floor of the Town Hall. This presentation will go over all the numbers that Axiom has given us, present the final draft of our feasibility study, and examine how feasible it is to bring better internet to Stonington. We'll seek your input at this meeting for what you want us to do going forwards! Read Stonington's feasibility study here.
To learn more, contact Henry Teverow at 207-367-2351, firstname.lastname@example.org, or just stop in at the Town Hall. Please let your friends and family know what we're doing!