This note is being sent to all Vienna residents via regular mail. Enclosed will be a postage paid post card with a short survey. Please fill it out and return it. It will help us get a sense of your opinion on this important matter.
To all Vienna Residents,
For nearly three years a small committee of Vienna residents has been pursuing how we might secure broadband internet for Vienna. They have kept the Selectboard informed as the effort develops. The Selectboard supports the efforts of that committee and has authorized and approved this informational mailing.
We in Vienna have a problem …
Fast, reliable and affordable Internet access (broadband) has become increasingly essential and will only be more so in the future. This was true even before the COVID pandemic which only served to emphasize this.
Broadband is not available in Vienna. Our current choices of Internet access over the phone lines or dish antenna is the best we can get and this is about 1/10th the minimum speed the federal government defines as broadband. Many of our neighboring towns that have cable TV as an option are finding even that is too slow and unreliable for their current and future needs.
Broadband is important for:
- Education - remote classrooms, adult education, job training
- Jobs - working from home/home business
- Remote health - at home consulting with your doctor
- Social - maintaining connections to friends and relatives using video chat programs
- Banking/bill payment - more convenient and less time driving.
- Entertainment - Streaming TV channels, movies, music, games.
- Environment - reducing use of our cars saves us expensive fuel costs and reduces CO2 emissions for a healthier planet.
What are we doing to fix this problem?
Even before the pandemic, we in Vienna and neighboring towns recognized something needed to be done. Forming a coalition with 5 other towns (Mt. Vernon, Leeds, Readfield, Wayne, Fayette) we received state grant money to assess the situation and consider solutions. We examined what similar towns were doing both in Maine and in the rest of the US. It became evident that no private business was going to make the effort to provide affordable broadband in Vienna. There is simply not enough profit for them or it would have been done.
We found that small rural sparsely populated towns like Vienna are taking the initiative to do this themselves. They are building an infrastructure of fiber optic cable to all their residents and then partnering with an Internet service provider to manage that network. The federal government is encouraging this and is providing Maine around 300 million dollars to assist towns by way of infrastructure grants.
Our coalition, the Western Kennebec Lakes Broadband Association, has recently sent out requests to vendors asking them to provide proposals for building and operating a fiber optic network. By the end of January, 2022 we will have proposals from several vendors and will be negotiating with them to find the best solution for Vienna. Once we have firm costs in hand, we will be in the position to apply for the federal grant money. Sparsely populated and unserved towns like Vienna are being given priority for these grant funds. There will remain a cost to the town that would most be likely funded by a municipal bond paid by subscriber fees.
The Selectboard has directed the committee to prepare for and hold a Broadband informational meeting at the Community Building on Tuesday February 15th, 2022 at 7 PM. If you prefer to attend remotely that option will also be available. The link for the remote meeting will be on the Town of Vienna website. Keep your eye on the Town of Vienna website, the Vienna Newsletter and notices around town for more news about the Broadband project
Important voter action on the Broadband project will be on the Warrant at the Town Meeting on March 11 and 12, 2022
What can you do to learn more about the project?
- Sign up for e-mail updates at here. We will be sending out emails from time to time to keep you informed of our progress.
- Visit Viennamaine.org where we will be posting updates and links to useful information. If you don’t have internet access, the Dr. Shaw Library provides computer terminals and WI-FI for public use.
- We are forming a Citizens Broadband Advisory Group that will be meeting a couple of times before the March town meeting to inform residents, discuss the project and spread the Broadband news to Vienna residents. If you would like to participate in the Advisory Group, contact one of the committee members listed below.
- If you have more questions, contact any of the Vienna Broadband Committee members listed below:
Jim Anderberg 207-293-2673 Jim.Anderberg@Gmail.com
Tom Jewett 207-242-7612 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed Lawless 207-671-7204 email@example.com
A postage paid anonymous survey card is being mailed to all Vienna residents. Please take a minute to make your opinions known about Internet service in Vienna. Please answer the first couple of questions even if you don’t have Internet access and don’t particularly care if Broadband is offered in Vienna. The survey results will help guide the Selectboard, the Broadband Committee and the Citizens Advisory Group as they pursue broadband options for the town.