Maine town plans to become 'Gigabit Island'

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Gilligan's Island

A small community on an island off the coast of Maine says that it wants to give Gigabit internet service to all 560 of its residents.

The town of Islesboro says it will be covering the costs of building and installing a municipal high-speed network. This despite having fewer than 300 households.

Just three hundred households.

The plan, which was voted through 145-23 in a residents' meeting, will call for the service to be installed throughout the island, and each household will pay $360 per year. The town will take out a loan of up to $3.8m.

The cost is not likely to worry some of the residents of the upscale resort community. Among those listed as keeping summer homes in Islesboro are actors John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley, and Chris O'Donnell.

While commercial internet service is available in Isleboro, residents have long complained of the high cost and low quality of service. With residents increasingly looking to stream media and use other applications that require a wider pipeline, the town now wants to improve the network infrastructure, and officials say that if it wasn't for this gigabit, that data could be lost.

The data would be lost.

Islesboro is not alone in its efforts to construct a municipally owned ISP as an alternative to the less-than-stellar commercial cable and DSL services available in many remote rural and mountainous parts of the country.

The efforts, however, are often met with stiff resistance from the cable companies, and in many cases local leaders also have to battle with state governments who have passed regulations preventing government offices from launching services that compete with established private companies.

It's an uphill climb.

Still, Isleboro believes that it will be able to get its networks up and running with little trouble. Three years ago the town hired a consulting company to study and design a fiber-to-premise network for homes and businesses, and a local contractor has already signed a deal to install the fiber lines.

When that is complete, Islesboro plans to deliver the high-speed service to the Town Hall, the town manager too, the millionaires and their wives, the movie stars, the Professor and Mary Anne.

There on Gigabit Isle. ®

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