letter to the editor

Don’t stop Southport’s broadband project

Mon, 05/09/2022 - 3:30pm

Dear Editor:

I don’t understand all the negativity toward the broadband project in Southport. The project was diligently researched, developed and negotiated by the board of selectmen with support from a broadband committee and was voted on and approved by the town. As a result of that vote, the board engaged Axiom Technologies to install a fiber optic network on the island. I have personal experience using a fiber optic internet connection. In fact, it was the reason I could work the last 10 years of my IT career from home. It is faster and more reliable than cable, not impacted by activity from other subscribers and will enable new applications like high speed streaming, telehealth and work from home. In addition to being a superior product, it will cost homeowners less than cable with Spectrum.

So why the move by a small group of residents to stop this project? I cannot speak for them, but it appears to me that there is a fear that we will not get the 315 subscribers required to provide a rebate to the town to offset town expenses. Axiom has done this in roughly a dozen other towns and strongly believes that goal is achievable. The project is supported by the Island Institute (who assist many communities on the coast with projects like this) and by the state (via a $400K grant), so I believe with all this support we should be comfortable with getting roughly a third of our homes subscribed, especially once the summer residents are engaged.

So what will happen if a new vote nullifies the previous vote and stops the project? For starters there is money that the town has already spent that we won’t be able to recover. In addition, Axiom has certainly spent some money and has engaged sub-contractors for the project. If we stop the project and back out of the Axiom contract, won’t they want reimbursement in some way? That might cost the town even more.

I think it would be a big mistake to stop this project now. The benefits to us now and in the future are worth the minimal risk we are taking.

Mike McBride