Comprehensive broadband report released by Aroostook Partnership and Aroostook County

1 year ago

Nearly a quarter of the homes in Aroostook County are lacking in a quality broadband connection and that is hindering growth in the region according to economic development officials. That is one of the findings of the recently released Aroostook County Broadband Community Guide.

The report, developed by Mission Broadband, is a product of the work done by the County Broadband Committee, which was formed in the summer of 2021. Paul Towle, CEO of the Aroostook Partnership, and Ryan Pelletier, county administrator of Aroostook County, jointly lead the effort. Additionally, members were sought from the surrounding cities, towns, and unorganized townships within the County to form the County Broadband Committee. The committee’s mission was to work together toward solutions to resolve the lack of broadband infrastructure and adequate internet access for all, which was brought to light in the wake of COVID. 

“It is critical that our region has robust and reliable broadband,” said Pelletier. “Our communities need to remain competitive and the number one issue we hear from local officials and business leaders is the necessity of high-speed reliable internet.”

To complete the report, Mission Broadband conducted surveys, engaged in broadband speed testing, mapped our served, underserved and least served locations and worked with the CBC to provide a blueprint of how to best move forward for each of our communities to improve broadband.

“It is the hope of the County Broadband Committee that this project, and the resulting reports for the communities of Aroostook County, will provide the guidance and contacts needed to help provide broadband to the unserved and underserved areas in the County,” said Towle. “We believe this important work is the first step in helping our towns understand their coverage gaps while also providing the tools and advice needed to build grass roots community engagement and pursue partnerships and grant funding to create affordable broadband solutions.”

Both Pelletier and Towle stress that the time to engage in broadband improvements is now with an unprecedented influx of federal and state funding to assist with projects. 

“Our local communities need to engage so they are not left behind,” added Pelletier. “These funds will eventually end, and it would be a shame if Aroostook County towns were not included in accessing some of these dollars to improve broadband capabilities here.”

Other notable findings in the survey portion of the report include 60 percent of survey respondents feel that their internet service is not affordable. Over 40 percent of respondents use their internet for a remote position at work; 30 percent own a home business; nearly 40 percent need reliable high-speed internet to be able to compete with other students in Maine who have access to online tools to enhance their education. Finally, there is telehealth, with over 30 percent of respondents saying that this resource is very meaningful to them. Northern Light Health, a major anchor institution within Aroostook County, reported that over 23 percent of their patient population do not have access to reliable broadband; yet many of the health conditions that Aroostook residents are treated for after discharge can be accomplished via telehealth.

The broadband mapping and gap analysis section revealed that of the 36,241 homes in the County, 8,655 homes fall under or are considered least served (less than 25/3mbps) or unserved (less than 100/20mbps). This gap represents roughly 24 percent of all households in Aroostook County.

Property values are also impacted significantly by internet access. Realtors across Aroostook concur that access to high-speed internet is a top consideration for home buyers today, which adds significantly to the value of properties with good broadband. This also makes areas like Aroostook more attractive to new residents and businesses considering a move and could help spur economic and population growth.

The report is available at and will be rolled out at regional meetings in northern, central and southern Aroostook in January.

The Aroostook Partnership is the private/public partnership speaking with one voice and engaging the private sector leadership, talents, and resources in the region to ensure the economic survival and growth of Aroostook County.