Internet access gap looms

CRANBERRY ISLES — Many Islesford residents are facing the possibility of a week or more without internet service starting Nov. 1.

That is when RedZone Wireless is set to discontinue service on the island.

This spring, the town contracted with Axiom Technologies to build a new system for the entire town, the Islesford portion of which was to have been operational by the end of this month. But that isn’t going to happen, Axiom President Mark Ouellette said Tuesday.

“There has been a little bit of a delay in the tower delivery,” he said.

The 100-foot tower is now scheduled to be delivered to the island by barge in 20-foot sections Nov. 1. It is to be assembled the next day at a site next to the fire station and town office.

“Then we have to put our equipment up on the tower,” Ouellette said. “We’re hoping to start to turn up service the following week.”

Some Islesford residents currently use a satellite-based internet service. The town office switched to one such service, Exede, more than a year ago, when it appeared that RedZone would soon be discontinuing service.

“We immediately had to switch [to satellite] because we had to conduct town business,” said Jim Fortune, administrative assistant to the Board of Selectmen.

“It works fine, but it’s not the kind of internet service we’re looking for. So, we’re anxious to get Axiom up and running.”

Fortune said RedZone customers who can’t go without internet service for a week or so could sign up for satellite service on a temporary basis.

“The problem people find with the satellite service is that you are limited to your data usage per month,” Fortune said. “A couple of people I’ve talked to said they frequently go over the limit, so it can get very expensive.”

A free, short-term option for Islesford residents who need internet access is to use the computer in the parlor at Neighborhood House, where the Islesford Library has an internet connection. That internet service is provided by the Maine School and Library Network, a consortium of about 1,000 schools and libraries across the state.

Fortune said town officials also are looking for possible ways to provide stop-gap internet service for current RedZone customers on Islesford.

“We may be able to work something out with RedZone, but I’m not sure,” he said. “We’ll try to figure something out.”

A 30-foot tower for Axiom service on Great Cranberry Island is to be delivered by barge Nov. 1, the same day the Islesford tower is to arrive. The smaller tower will be attached to a building at the Great Cranberry Boatyard.

Axiom plans to provide internet service to Great Cranberry and Sutton Island starting next spring.



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]

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