Rockland plans to seek bids for broadband expansion

By Stephen Betts | Nov 04, 2019

Rockland — A long delayed effort to expand fiber optic cable for broadband internet in Rockland is expected to soon move ahead.

City Manager Tom Luttrell said he expects to solicit as early as next week requests from companies for the project that was approved by voters in a November 2016 referendum.

The delay in moving forward with the project was due to a couple of factors. City Councilors said ahead of the November 2016 vote that it would not issue bonds until older bonds were paid as to minimize the tax impact on property owners.

In addition, the city manger said he was receiving contradictory advice from consultants on how to best undertake the project.

In November 2016, Rockland residents voted 1,886 to 1,471 to approve borrowing up to $400,000 for the broadband expansion.

At the time, then acting City Manager Audra Caler Bell said the money would be used to construct a high-speed fiber broadband network that would be the backbone from which service could eventually be extended all over the city. The $400,000 would create a system to link municipal and school buildings and key downtown locations.

“I can’t stress enough how important an opportunity this is for our future,” Councilor Valli Geiger said at an August 2016 City Council meeting.

She said internet service in Rockland is too slow for people who want to operate businesses.

A study commissioned in 2015 by Rockland, Rockport and Owls Head cited economic benefits from high-speed broadband in the communities.

That study said it would cost Rockland, Rockport and Owls Head about $18.6 million to construct a high-speed broadband network to reach everybody in their communities, but the long-term economic development generated would far exceed those expenses.

That was the conclusion of a report filed with the three communities in August 2015 by Tilson Technology Management.

Rockland’s Economic Development Advisory Committee had earlier recommended that the city should thoroughly explore the financial implications of a model where the city would provide every location in Rockland with access to fiber broadband.

Comments (7)
Posted by: Bob Nichols | Nov 05, 2019 22:04

A Netflix movie generally streams at less that 10 Mb (megabits), which is .01 Gb (gigabits). A 1Gb connection would allow you to watch 100 Netflix movies simultaneously. A 4 G would allow you to watch 400 movies simultaneously.

 

Even the 100 Mb connection which is now the Spectrum lowest level would allow you to watch 10 Netflix movies simultaneously.

 

A 4G phone is not 4 Gigabits, but much less. The 4G for phones stands for fourth generation.



Posted by: Dale Hayward | Nov 05, 2019 22:02

If the city of Rocklandia wants it you can bet #1 It will cost the taxpayers lots, #2, The city will have to make lots of money from it, #3, Someone else may run it better, #4. Someone needs to set the record straight about the necessity of watching a movie vs. business applications and how this will actually put us into the next phase of computer cyber space. I still remember being very happy watching tv on an 8 inch screen in the 50's and one hour or so  and spending most of our time out of doors in the fresh, clean air with other kids and visiting out neighbors.

 



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Nov 05, 2019 18:16

Bob,

My understanding of this article is that the city will look at broadband internet companies to get "QUOTES" on what it would cost to bring a wider and stronger broadband to the city.  In my opinion, this is a win win situation.   The city needs to stay caught up with technology.  1G?  Seriously!??   Maybe you do not have many items that need broadband service. I would love to go up to at least 4G.  If they are offering it, why not see how much it will cost?   Streaming Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, Amazon on the tv takes alot of G's.   I would love to not have to wait for a movie to load.   This will help the city and also the broadband company.  Many businesses rely on the internet now a days.   I hope that this happens.

 



Posted by: Bob Nichols | Nov 05, 2019 17:57

Why would Rockland ever want to get into the Internet business when you can currently get up to 940 Megabits Per Second (1 GB)  from Spectrum in Rockland? Virtually no businesses or residences even need anywhere near that speed. And if a business were to ever need higher speed, Three Ring Binder fiber is already there.

 

Broadband by Rockland would be a giant money pit for the city. Any city operated service would have to attract current customers away from Spectrum. According to the Tilson Report "All of Tilson’s scenarios required minimum take rates of 65%-75% in order to be cash-flow positive in five years.". The "take rate" means that the city must be able to get 65-75% of the internet users. Tilson also says "If the municipalities elect to pursue fiber-based solutions, they will need to provide the capital and should expect little in the way of cash returns from network operations." The numbers just don't work.

Broadband is not just draping fiber optic from pole to pole. It needs to be provided by big suppliers who can keep up with technology, have customer support centers, fleets of service vehicles, major bandwidth connections to the internet, and piles of cash to support infrastructure.

Broadband would be a loser deal for Rockland.



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Nov 05, 2019 15:24

Just a legitimate question:  Is it possible to take that $400,000 out of the Main Street TIF account since they will be the main beneficiaries?



Posted by: Pam Leach | Nov 04, 2019 20:46

I was told today by my cell phone provider that in January companies like Verizon will be completely abandoning their 3G networks and if you’re in a place that has only a 3G signal, you won’t even be able to make a phone call!   I suppose WiFi and mobile data are 2 different things... but the technology is advancing rapidly!  So the previous commenter had a very good point... back to the drawing board from the 2016 plan/costs.

Also, I find it very disconcerting that there are differences in opinions/advice on how to proceed.

Good luck though... in theory this is a great idea that would benefit us all.  The services available to us in the mid-coast area (at times) leave a lot to be desired..



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Nov 04, 2019 19:18

Better go back to the drawing board on this issue since the figures where from 2015/2106.  Much has changed since then with broadband internet.  They all say "we have 4G oh wait....some have 5G now.  Pretty sure that mine is still running on 3G.  I do think that we need to upgrade but the cost has to be revisited.



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