BAILEYVILLE & CALAIS – It’s a first of its kind for high speed internet in the state, and project leaders are hoping it can set an example.
Baileyville and Calais are now online, and faster than ever, thanks to the Downeast Broadband Utility that is now officially servicing its first customers.
Friday, internet providers and politicians celebrated with a ribbon cutting. But they said it was the townspeople who brought up the original idea.
Calais’s town manager Mike Ellis said the idea came out of, “two rural communities in the state of Maine that get tired of hearing the word ‘no, because you don’t have a dense enough population’.”
So the two communities did it themselves, with the help of Pioneer Broadband out of Houlton, to form their own municipal utility.
That means the Downeast Broadband Utility owns the network, and multiple high-speed internet providers can come in.
“We want this network to be open and we want competition to come because when we compete we do better by our customers,” said Tim McAfee, the CEO of Pioneer Broadband.
Officials said costs will go down for customers, and that nearly every home and business in Calais and Baileyville will have access.
Not only will the download speeds be better, but the upload speeds will be much faster too, which is important for business.
“If you’re going to create something, you got to get it out there, and creation – that’s economy, that’s business,” said Daniel Sullivan, the president of the Downeast Broadband Utility.
“People can come into the area and do their business here, without having to live in a larger town,” said Chris Loughlin, Baileyville’s town manager.
It cost Baileyville and Calais a combined $3.1 million to form the utility, and they’re already being asked how they did it.
So if you see two new buildings next to the Baileyville Town Office, and another in Calais, know they’re holding what project leaders see as the future of fiber-optics.
“Let’s expand the healthcare piece, think about the little old lady who’s in her house in February and has to get in a car to drive to Calais,” said Sullivan, “well maybe she doesn’t have to do that now, maybe her doctor can just come into her living room, the possibilities are endless.”