The first kernel of our gigabit fiber to the home network in South Portland was created when South Portland’s IT Director Chris Dumais wrote an RFP for a network he needed to connect city buildings and asked that bidders connect homes and businesses along the way.
There is much excitement about the recent announcements by Rockport and South Portland that the two cities will be deploying 1 gigabit per second municipal broadband networks to homes. Not surprisingly, there is also anger and frustration from certain quarters – most especially the incumbent ISP’s who have little to gain and much to lose from the market entry of a competing network.
If you follow next-generation broadband communications at all, you’re familiar with places like Kansas City, Chattanooga and San Antonio. These were some of the first cities in our country get gigabit speeds into homes either with the help of Google Fiber or through direct municipal investment. These cities are part of a group gathering on Monday to discuss next-generation broadband availability that includes tech industry hubs like Boston, Massachusetts, Palo Alto, California and Santa Monica, California.
Our first phase of building municipal fiber to the home in South Portland started, not as the economic development issue it eventually became, but as a basic IT requirement. Chris Dumais, the City’s IT Director was faced with increasing costs for the dark fiber network that connects key city buildings, and he figured one up-front payment to lease a new network for many years would save money over the long term. He put out an RFP, and he accomplished his goal.
This week Fletcher and I attended the Community Fiber Networks conference in Springfield, Massachusetts. Community leaders throughout New England came together there to talk about the impact of better broadband to community development, share experiences in deploying networks, and discuss important policy issues around broadband deployments.
One of this week’s memorable moments came on Wednesday morning, as I watched Bloomberg TV’s two spots on Maine broadband with considerably mixed emotions. Bloomberg reporter Michael McKee doesn’t pull any punches. As you can see from this spot, he contrasts the 150 megabits per second available bandwidth in New York City to our statewide average of 9 megabits per second here in Maine and explains how our challenges of population density and geography make it a money losing scenario for ISP’s to build out fiber networks on their own.
Two weeks ago, I took time out from a vacation camping in Western Maine to travel to Rockport for the announcement of the new gigabit fiber to the home network we helped deploy there. It was only much later, today in fact, that it occurred to me that I started my journey to launch Maine’s first gigabit municipal fiber to the home network in Bryant Pond – the home of the nation’s last hand-cranked magneto telephone exchange.
Today, Maine faces challenges with its broadband being significantly inferior to 48 other U.S. States. While our broadband isn’t deteriorating, the rest of the country is developing superior broadband solutions at a far faster rate. This has a lasting negative impact on Maine’s economy.
Maine is severely disadvantaged when it comes to broadband. As a provider of broadband Internet access, we care about the impact of broadband on Maine’s economy. We care so much, we’re willing to shine a light on the state of broadband. The situation is disheartening and demands attention.
Recently, we migrated both our customer email and our internal email platform to new services. This resulted in a temporary surge in spam in my own inbox and a rise in questions from customers on the GWI Facebook page about managing spam in their inbox. Now that my spam filters are working well again and I’m spending less time managing spam manually, I thought it was time to share a few tips on effectively controlling the flow of promotional email into your mailbox.