Broadband Committee

Special Town Meeting Scheduled for Saturday October 1, 2022

The Vienna Selectboard has scheduled a Special Town Meeting for Saturday, October 1 at 9AM at  the Vienna Community Center. At that time Vienna residents will vote on an article that authorizes the Selectboard to move forward on constructing and operating a  municipally owned fiber to the home broadband network. Full details on the article will be published September 1.

In order for voters to make an informed decision, there will be an Informational Meeting at the Community Center on Wednesday, August 31 at 6:30 and a public hearing on the article at the Community Center, Monday, September 19 at 6:30.

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For nearly three years the Vienna broadband committee has been pursuing how we might secure broadband internet for Vienna.

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.

Western Kennebec Lakes Community’s Broadband Association

The towns of Vienna, Mt. Vernon, Readfield, Wayne and Leeds have begun working together to address problems with our current level of internet service. We want to achieve the shared goals of improving economic development potential, building community, reaching unserved and underserved areas of our towns and ensuring the availability of services that will meet current and future connectivity needs.
 

Community surveys

  • January 2021: on-line survey. 73 people responded. Results here
  • February 2022 mailing survey results here


Documents

State of Maine - Broadband Plan (2020)

Phase I Report from the committee

Phase II (Draft) Report from the committee

Interim Report - December 2020

WKLCBA RFP - Nov. 2021 Fiber Optic Construction and Network Operations

Broadband: Bringing Home the Bits. National Research Council 2002. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Slide Presentation from the February 15, 2022 Informational Meeting

Federal Affordability Connectivity Program guidelines


Keep informed

Listen to a good program on the broadband for Maine initiative with Senator Angus King here

Examples of communities in Maine with publicly owned networks

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