Making Nice in Maine

11:00 AM New legislation and new attitudes keep a fiber network on track to bring broadband service to rural Maine

December 15, 2010

2 Min Read
Making Nice in Maine

11:00 AM -- Here's an end-of-the-year follow-up with a rare bit of good news.

Earlier this year, I wrote about opposition from incumbent FairPoint Communications Inc. to a broadband stimulus award winner, Maine Fiber Co., which won a $25.4 million grant to build a middle-mile fiber optic network that will include three fiber rings in Western, Northern, and Downeast Maine. (See Maine Fiber Network Comes Under Fire)

Here’s the update: Maine Fiber is proceeding with construction of the 1,100-mile project, called the Three-Ring Binder, and has hired nextGen Telecom Services Group Inc. to handle the construction and to provide ongoing maintenance of the network.

This is all happening thanks to two things: First, a law passed by the Maine legislature that created a new class of utility, dark fiber provider, that was specifically designed for Maine Fiber, and gave that privately owned company access to existing utility poles for its fiber optic network construction.

Secondly, according to Josh Broder, president of Maine Fiber, the company is getting exceptional cooperation from the pole owners themselves, including FairPoint and utility companies within the state.

"We are really pleased with the way that make-ready has gone -- it is dramatic the cooperation we are getting from pole owners," Broder says.

Maine Fiber has reached out to pole owners as "stakeholders" in the process of building the Three-Ring Binder, Broder says. Of course the fact that the new law included a broadband sustainability tax, some of which ultimately goes back to FairPoint and other local exchange companies in Maine, certainly didn't hurt.

But with that cooperation, Maine Fiber is on track to meet federal stimulus rules for completing a fiber optic backbone that will bring broadband to places that don't have it now, and that can only be good news.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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