MOUNT DESERT — The Select Board has commissioned an analysis of the current extent of high-speed broadband service in the town, with the aim of finding out where the gaps are and how much it would cost to close them.
The analysis, which will take six to eight weeks and cost $9,800, will be performed by Casco Bay Advisors of Gardiner. That firm has done other projects for Mount Desert and neighboring towns.
Kathy Miller, a member of the town’s Broadband Committee, told the Select Board on Jan. 18, “We realized we need quite a bit more data and we need some professionals to provide it.”
Brian Lippold, president of Casco Bay Advisors, told the Select Board his company has performed similar broadband audits for more than 150 towns in Maine.
“We examine the existing broadband infrastructure in the town by doing a field audit,” he said. “We drive every road and every long driveway to identify where there are existing fiber optic assets and where there is cable TV infrastructure, which is typically the highest-speed asset that a community has in terms of broadband.”
Lippold said all that information is fed into a geographic information system (GIS) that allows his company to identify all the potential subscriber locations.
“We can then determine what the cost would be to either extend cable TV infrastructure or build a fiber-to-the-home system town wide,” he said.
His company’s audit will result in “a comprehensive report designed to achieve the goal for everyone in the town to have access to reliable, affordable, high-speed and future-ready internet service,” Lippold said.
“The data we gather can be shared with all of the service providers in Maine to see who might be interested in building out a network to fill the gaps. Data also is in a form that is suitable for grant applications to secure state or federal funds for the areas that would be eligible for grants.”
Select Board member Martha Dudman said, “It seems to me this is something we need to do because…we want to have our ducks in a row so that we’re ready to apply for any grants that become available.”