Opinion

Caribou’s broadband options

To the editor:

The Caribou City Council is considering three options for future broadband service at their next meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 22.  

One option is for the Caribou Utilities District to build a new, 100 percent fiber optic network to the last mile of every road in the city.  This means the district will offer a single dedicated strand of fiber to every address throughout the city, providing the same level of service regardless of where your home or business is located. This means minimum service of 100 Mbps download and upload speed from Great Works Internet (GWI) or Pioneer Broadband at $59.95 per month or less.  Both GWI and Pioneer are Maine companies which will compete for customers in Caribou, keeping monthly subscription fees lower over time.  

The other two options are from Charter and Consolidated Communications.  They have proposed upgrading or expanding their existing infrastructure in Caribou.  Only one will be completely fiber; neither will be built to the last mile.  This means continued differing levels of service throughout Caribou, with 500-plus customers still under- or unserved.  Additionally, both telecom companies require financial contribution from the city to build a network to the last mile.  Charter requires $857,133 from the city to get started.

Because the city and district are both municipal entities, the district has offered future revenue sharing to the city if they choose to assist in the financing of the 100 percent fiber optic network.  A locally owned and operated fiber provider keeps revenues generated in Aroostook County and directly supports local businesses.  It also potentially provides a future revenue stream for the city which could be used to maintain current infrastructure such as municipal buildings and street lights.  The private telecom companies are not offering this option.

Let your city councilors know your preference regarding the future of telecom services in Caribou.  This is a pivotal decision; it will be consequential and transformational.  It can also be an opportunity for two of the municipal entities in Caribou to work together for the benefit of all citizens.

Caribou Utilities District Board of Trustees

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