Broadband Study for the Maine Off-Shore Islands

Broadband represents one of the most effective ways to address the access challenges associated with island life. Superior connections can provide economic, educational, medical, and other benefits without the need for physical connectedness. As such, the Island Institute engaged Tilson to conduct a broadband study of thirteen of Maine’s year-round inhabited islands, plus Sutton Island. The objective of this study is to provide each island with information that will enable informed decisions as these communities move toward their goals.

Components of the study included:

  • A community meeting to assess each community’s broadband related goals;
  • An inventory of current broadband assets and services;
  • A randomized survey of residents and businesses to measure broadband satisfaction, subscribership, and attitudes regarding new service;
  • High-level network design and cost estimates for various solutions that address the community standard;
  • Valuation of the economic benefits (improved GDP, job growth, tax base growth) associated with broadband improvements;
  • A summary of various community broadband projects in Maine and around the US; and
  • Analysis of potential operating and business models for serving Maine’s offshore islands.

The islands included in this study are those of The Town of Cranberry Isles (Islesford, Great Cranberry Sutton), Vinalhaven, North Haven, Monhegan, Matinicus, Frenchboro, Swan’s, Chebeague, Long Island, Isle Au Haut, Cliff, and Peaks. The scope for Cliff and Peaks islands was narrower than the rest of the study and did not include an asset inventory, fiber design, economic benefits valuation, or a survey that was random (a survey was taken, but it was an opt-in online survey). The Cliff and Peaks scope however did include high-level capital cost estimates for a fiber solution.