letter to the editor

Hope Southport doesn’t lose this opportunity

Mon, 06/06/2022 - 3:30pm

Dear Editor:

I would like to provide some historical information about the Southport broadband committee’s work on options for upgrading Southport’s internet. Our committee met weekly for 14 months before the vote last May, with the goal of providing every Southport household with equal access to reliable, affordable high speed internet service.

We initially met several times with LC including in August 2020 outside at the Southport school. We also sent a survey to everyone on Southport whose emails we could gather, questioning them about their satisfaction with the network and customer service offered by Spectrum. Many survey results cited low bandwidth or unreliable service with the shared copper coax cables. With this system the bandwidth at one house depends on the use at that time by other households sharing that line. This information resulted in our decision to pursue fiber optic. With fiber optic there is no loss of bandwidth because each customer has a dedicated line from the central office to their home. Spectrum’s coax cable simply cannot compete.

We then learned about the advantage of a municipally owned system which was gaining favor in Maine. The ISP (Internet Service Provider) is responsible for billing, collections and repair; a local person is hired by the ISP to enable rapid response to a service problem; $30 from every subscription is returned to the town to pay for the construction loan; if the town becomes dissatisfied with the ISP we can choose a new one.

Axiom will not raise the subscription price for the first four years. As Spectrum’s price continues to rise, ours will not, and after four years any price change would involve negotiation between Southport and Axiom.

If the town votes to cancel the contract, we will owe $640,000 of nuts, bolts, miles of fiber optic wire, etc which we would have to store here and sell. We also would owe Axiom their costs incurred so far. In addition the $550,000 we have been awarded in grants toward the project would have to be refunded. These grants, along with the subscription returns, would enable us to pay the remaining costs.

At this time towns all over Maine are taking advantage of the opportunity to improve the internet service for every household, while taking advantage of the grants being offered. I hope that Southport does not lose our opportunity to do the same.

Maureen Kinsey

Southport Broadband Committee