Your chance to participate
To the editor:
The Caribou Utilities District is preparing to enter the fiber business: A 100 percent fiber optic network built to the last mile, from the outside in. This means under-served citizens in rural areas will have access first.
The district has partnered with Pioneer Broadband to design and install the fiber network. We have divided the city into five segments for installation efficiency and reduced monetary risk; the first four segments will address rural community needs.
Once installed, the district will own and maintain the open network, requiring no upgrades for the foreseeable 40-50 years, capable of providing symmetrical 100 megabits per second and available 1 gigabit per second speeds, with options for 10 gigabits per second speeds in the near future. To connect to the internet, businesses/homeowners can contact any internet service provider, such as Pioneer Broadband, GWI, and Aroostook Technologies (even Spectrum and Consolidated Communications are welcomed). The business/homeowner will receive their bill from the ISP. The ISP then pays CUD a wholesale fee of $25/month/user.
The first two phases (1,445 potential users) estimated cost: $2,830,000. Financing will include community stakeholder grants, awarded grants, borrowing and wholesale fees. To protect the city, the district is working with Pioneer Broadband to provide a construction bond where both parties share risk in the event the project economics prove to be more challenging than our conservative projections.
City support includes: our charter amendment in March 2022; payment for the engineering design with American Rescue Plan Act funds, and donation of land on Sincock Street for our central telecom hub. The district has also received a private loan of $200,000 to purchase initial fiber cable and pole permits. We have also applied for a $1.7 million grant that will pay for first phase and part of the second. Assuming a successful grant process, site improvements will begin for the telecom hub in spring 2023.
Revenue stays in Caribou/Aroostook/Maine. After full build-out, and loans are paid, revenue sharing will be available to any entity participating in project funding. The city is already eligible; let us know if you would like to participate, too.
Caribou Utilities District Board of Trustees
Nancy Solman, President
Jay Kamm, Treasurer
Janine Murchison, PE
David Belyea, PE