Broadband in Franklin County

At the end of 2023, Greater Franklin was responsible for attracting $34M of broadband infrastructure investment to Franklin County.  And we are not done. We are in ongoing discussions with the towns and internet service providers (ISPs) to hear the provider’s solutions for the balance of the county.

History & Timeline

2017 – A grassroots collection of citizen leaders from around the county recognized the greatest threat to Franklin county’s future success was the current state of inadequate broadband infrastructure. At the time, there was no plan to upgrade it to future, or even current FCC standards. This group of citizen leaders created the Franklin County Broadband Initiative (FCBI).

The FCBI applied for a ConnectMaine grant to assess our county-wide internet assets and provide high-level costs to upgrade the entire county to a functioning standard.

2018 – We were successful with the ConnectMaine grant.  Grass-roots community engagement lead to each of our 22 towns, including the county (townships), contributing to the cost of a Study that assessed our entire county plus Livermore Falls.

We engaged our consultant and produced our county-wide study which encompassed all of our 21 towns, 14 townships plus the Androscoggin County town of Livermore Falls. This 510 page study measured who was connected, with which technology (DSL, cable, fiber), who was not connected and the high-level costs to get all 30,000 residents connected to reliable high-speed broadband.

2018-2020 – Ongoing community engagement, establishing municipal broadband committees, engaging with internet service providers, and lots of grant writing.

2021 – Our Weld/Wilton/Perkins/Washington Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) project is awarded a $1M federal grant. More fundraising is needed.

Our 4-town Rangeley (including the town of Rangeley and Rangeley, Dallas, and Sandy River Plantations) Fiber-to-the-Home project is included in our National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) grant application, which is in collaboration with Consolidated Communications and ConnectMaine.

Our 5-town Farmington Exchange (Farmington, Temple, Industry, New Sharon, Chesterville) Fiber-to-the-Home project is included in our federal NTIA grant application, which is in collaboration with Consolidated Communications and ConnectMaine.

2022 – Our Weld/Wilton/Perkins/Washington Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) project is awarded an additional federal grant in the amount of $514,000.

We have three FTTH projects that are funded and beginning this year to be completed by the end of 2023. These will connect 13 towns/12,000 addresses (more than half of the county) and result in $34M of taxable infrastructure investment within Franklin County.

Ahead of schedule!

As of December 31, 2022, Consolidated Communications (CCI) completed building their fiber network to nine towns in the Farmington area and four towns in the Rangeley area – 11,000 addresses – have been built out with fiber-to-the-home network. This project will serve approximately 75% of the addresses in the entire county. It is a $27.5M project that will be paid for by $9.5M in National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) funds and $18M in investment by CCI. Greater Franklin worked with the state and CCI to see that Franklin County played a significant role in the process of acquiring NTIA funding.

We updated our 2018 Study to reflect the current broadband assets throughout the county.  We are receiving proposals from providers for connecting our remaining towns.

2023 – Digital Literacy/Equity Initiative:  In partnership with Franklin County and Spruce Mtn Adult Eds, we applied for and were awarded a two-year grant from the State (Maine Connectivity Authority) to support the hiring of staff and equipment purchases to teach residents in ALL communities to use the internet safely and efficiently.  Another goal is to enroll our income eligible residents in the federal subscription and device subsidy (ACP) program.  The availability of classes has been hugely popular. Since January, classes have been regularly taught in eight town libraries and three partner facilities servicing more than 140 “students”.

Our Wilton/Perkins/Washington fiber-to-the-home project was awarded an additional $3.7M from Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA) which has attracted other providers with their solutions for these towns.

In addition to CCI, our county’s other incumbent landline (DSL) provider is TDS. In 2022 TDS was awarded $25M of federal E-ACAM funds to drive their upgrade from DSL to a new Fiber network. By the end of November 2023 100% of the following towns were able to connect to a fiber network: Weld, Phillips, Madrid, Salem.

By the end of 2023, Greater Franklin will be responsible for attracting $34M of broadband infrastructure investment to Franklin County.  And we are not done. We are in ongoing discussions with the towns and internet service providers (ISPs) to hear the
provider’s solutions for the balance of the county.

2024 – The town of Wilton, Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA) and Consolidated Communications (CCI) negotiate a contract for CCI to build a fiber network to every address in the town of Wilton. Since Wilton is served out of the Livermore Falls exchange, CCI will be running their fiber from there and will be upgrading all of Livermore Falls and Jay addresses to FIBER enroute to Wilton. By the end of August 2024, these three additional towns will have a new Fidium fiber network that every address will be able to connect to.

TDS’s fiber build continues to connect the remainder of the Franklin County addresses. Now getting connected in 2024: New Vineyard, Eustis, Lang, Coplin, Wyman, part of Carrabassett Valley, Kingfield. Remaining to be connected: Strong, Freeman.

 

At the moment, we have COMPLETED two fiber-to-the-home projects:

Wilton, Perkins & Washington Twp.

The provider for the Wilton area buildout is Matrix. It will include three towns – 1,500 addresses – to be built out with a fiber-to-the-home network by the end of 2023.  It is a $6.5M project that will be funded by the provider, the county, the towns, the federal government and the State.

Consolidated Communications (CCI) in Farmington Exchange and Rangeley

The provider for this project is Consolidated Communications (CCI). Nine towns in the Farmington area and Rangeley area – 11,000 addresses – will be built out with fiber-to-the-home internet by the end of 2023. This project will serve approximately half of the addresses in the entire county. It is a $27.5M project that will be paid for by $9.5M in National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) funds and $18M in investment by CCI. Greater Franklin worked with the state and CCI to see that Franklin County played a significant role in the process of acquiring NTIA funding.

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