Internet service provider Consolidated Communications has issued a planning notice for Harpswell and surrounding communities as the company installs fiber-optic infrastructure for its Fidium Fiber broadband Internet service.
Consolidated is expanding service coverage of its all-fiber Internet network in Harpswell, Brunswick and Topsham, the company said in a Thursday, May 4 news release. It released a detailed map of affected areas but no timeline for when the work would be completed.
“Construction has already begun in some locations, with more construction planned for the coming weeks,” he said. “Through this expansion, thousands of more homes and small businesses in the community will have access to Fidium’s fiber internet service.”
Residents should expect to encounter crews digging and climbing utility poles along the edge of private properties within the public right-of-way and easements, Consolidated said, adding that the work can cause temporary traffic diversions, noise and dust.
The company did not provide details on when its service expansion in the Harpswell area will be completed. He asked residents to be patient and advised them to keep an eye out for details in the near future.
“Additional information on progress in building the fiber will be shared with city and city officials, as well as residents,” the release said. “Mailers, hang tags, and construction notices will be distributed to keep the public informed, and Fidium representatives will visit neighborhoods to share more about what to expect during construction and how to sign up to be the first to know as soon as the service is ready to install.” .”
In surrounding areas such as Freeport, the Fidium service offers speeds of up to 2 gigabits per second, fast enough for multiple users to simultaneously stream high-definition video or participate in online games or video conferencing.
Over 99% of Harpswell residents already have access to broadband service through cable giant Comcast, which offers residential services under the Xfinity brand.
Xfinity offers speeds of up to 1.2 gigabits per second, just over half the speed advertised by Fidium. Only large households with multiple heavy Internet users would likely require download speeds over 1 gigabit per second, but that could change as technology advances.
The Maine Connectivity Authority announced on April 24 that it has awarded Comcast $276,000 through its Reach Me grant program, which will be matched by nearly $830,000 in private investment totaling more than $1.1 million to extend its service to the remaining unserved areas around Harpswell, Brunswick, Topsham, and about a dozen other Maine communities.
The Reach Me program was made possible through a fund created by the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion federal economic stimulus measure enacted in 2021.
Connectivity Authority spokesman Brian Allenby said the agency could not share which specific locations would be funded in Harpswell due to the “private nature of the networks”, but that it would publish more general information about the route on its website within the next week. or so. .
Harpswell Town Administrator Kristi Eiane reacted positively to Fidium and Xfinity expansion announcements on Friday 5 May. He said increased competition among area broadband providers is good for residents.
“I am pleased to hear that there appears to be some investment in this area, and I think it gives residents more options,” Eiane said in a telephone interview.
Harpswell officials didn’t receive details until Friday about which areas will get the expanded services, he said, but the city in March sent Comcast a list of about 40 addresses that currently don’t have access to high-speed cable Internet service. . It included addresses on Pole Island, Old Dunning Road, Natrimac Point Road, Little Ponds Road and Mallard Pond Road, among others.
A third provider, Cribstone Communications, is a Harpswell-based service with a fiber optic network that has advertised speeds of up to 300 megabits per second, with one system capable of offering speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.
Brian Lippold, president of Embden-based internet consultancy Casco Bay Advisors LLC, said Harpswell is lucky to have a population dense enough to support multiple broadband providers. He is a consultant to Harpswell and completed a report on broadband planning for the city in January.
Lippold noted that current offerings still fall slightly short of the city’s goal of achieving full broadband access to all locations.
“The big question I have for both Comcast and (Consolidated)/Fidium is, are they going to serve 100% of residents, and if not, what areas are they going to leave out?” he said. “I have contacted both vendors and expect to hear back soon.”
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