MOUNT DESERT — A special committee is likely to be formed to study options for reducing or eliminating gaps in broadband Internet service throughout the town.
Town Manager Durlin Lunt said he has been asked to place the question of creating such a committee on the agenda for the Board of Selectmen’s Nov. 2 meeting.
More than 50 people attended an informational meeting last week on a report prepared by Tilson Technology Management of Portland, which assessed the current state of broadband coverage in Mount Desert and outlined several options for extending service.
The findings of the report had been summarized by Aaron Paul, one of the Tilson consultants who conducted the study, at the Sept. 21 selectmen’s meeting.
One option that Tilson identified would be to build a network that could provide high-speed Internet access to every residence in town. The estimated cost of that ranges from $7.2 million to $13.3 million
Far less expensive options are what Paul called “patchwork solutions.” Two of those, he said, would be aimed at “plugging gaps in Otter Creek and Pretty Marsh, getting people something now to get them out of dial-up.”
Lunt said he thinks the town’s proposed broadband study committee will be looking at both short-term and long-term solutions.
“There are two issues here,” he said. “One is what is the long-term future of broadband service in the town of Mount Desert. But what do we do in the interim to plug the gaps? Because the long-range solution is just that.”
Lunt said that, given all of the variables and unknowns at this point, “a lot of heavy lifting and work needs to be done” before voters can be asked to support any one solution, especially if it comes with a big price tag.