Equipment for the new broadband internet network waiting to be installed on Islesford last fall. The Islesford portion of the new network is now complete, but work remains to connect Sutton and Great Cranberry Islands. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Cranberry broadband network not finished yet

CRANBERRY ISLES — Last week’s ribbon cutting at the Islesford Neighborhood House to celebrate completion of the broadband network for Islesford, Great Cranberry and Sutton islands was slightly premature because the project isn’t actually finished.

“It is successfully finished on Islesford; we have over 90 customers there,” said Mark Ouellette, president of Axiom Technologies, the company that is building the fiber-to-the-home network for the town.

But there is still work to be done before service is available on Great Cranberry and Sutton islands.

“On Sutton, we expect to be completed by Aug. 15 and, on Great Cranberry, likely by the end of August,” Ouellette said.

Sutton Island customers will get their broadband signal from a small tower that has been erected on Great Cranberry.

Ouellette said the goal had been to have the entire network completed by July 4.

“But the contractors were delayed in getting started on some of the trunk line work that needed to get done on Great Cranberry,” he said. “Part of that had to do with a little bit of delay in getting the poles placed.

“You can’t put the trunk line in until you get the poles placed,” he continued and you can’t place the poles until you drill the holes, and the hole drilling got a little bit delayed.”

Ouellette said the Axiom crew also had to stay on Islesford longer than they had anticipated because residents kept calling and asking to be connected.

“We’re keeping a list of folks who still want service, but we have left Islesford with all of our equipment for now, and we’ll come back to them after we get done on Great Cranberry and Sutton,” he said.

As for the customers on Islesford who now have broadband internet service, Ouellette said, “They are beyond excited.”

Skip Stevens, an Islesford resident and member of the town’s Broadband Committee, described his own experience with the service as “really great.”

“We’ve had no problems at all, and the people I have talked to are reporting the same experience we’ve had.”

Stevens said part of the reason people are so happy is that most of them have not had any internet service since the previous provider, RedZone Wireless, pulled out last October. And even before that, he said, “We struggled along for several years with RedZone becoming much too slow as the demand for service increased. Now we’ve got state of the art.”

Voters at the 2017 town meeting authorized the town to borrow up to $1.2 million to pay most of the cost of building a network to provide broadband internet service to everyone in town who wanted it.

Town officials also applied for several grants for the project, and they were notified in March that the town had been awarded $1.32 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Community Facilities Program. That grant requires the town to pay $233,000, which is 15 percent of the $1.55 million total cost of the broadband network.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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