Spectrum a no-show for Boothbay Harbor broadband committee

Tue, 07/20/2021 - 2:30pm

Spectrum Community Solutions Account Executive Michelle Larochelle didn’t make the Boothbay Harbor broadband committee meeting July 19. Larochelle was expected to give a presentation similar to her June 23 Boothbay proposal for a town-wide internet-only high-speed broadband partnership.

The Boothbay/Spectrum proposal had a built-in expansion for unserved and underserved areas. With about 2,400 households at $24.99 per month, Boothbay’s break-even point would be 1,373 customers. Larochelle told Boothbay selectmen with 1,698 existing customers, it is a no-risk proposal. The proposal would include a 10-year contract with Boothbay responsible for setting the price and managing the billing and Spectrum providing technical support and repairs, she said.

“That's mainly what she was coming here for,” said Boothbay Harbor Town Manager Julia Latter. “Her whole point was that we are one of the top connected towns in Lincoln County … but she said they have a lot to offer us even with the connectivity we have now.”

Latter said since Boothbay would be responsible for billing, the town would not be held to charging traditional monthly rates and could build costs into the taxes. Boothbay would also have the option of hiring a billing agency to handle everything.

Speculating Boothbay Harbor’s proposal terms would be similar, committee members weighed its merits against Linconville Communications’ (LCI) proposal to Boothbay Harbor for a full fiber-to-the-home buildout. Member Darrell Gudroe said as a customer of LCI, he can attest its speeds are not optimum, but a full buildout would likely change that and the chance to develop an endless variety of networks is the big selling point.

Said Gudroe, “LCI is trying to sell us on a fiber system serving many different purposes that are not internet-centric, they are network-centric. As a network guy, I really get the difference between just supplying internet to every home and having the ability to have a fiber connection business to business, building to building. We currently have a lot of businesses in town, now, that own multiple locations and would benefit from having fiber-connected properties …”

Member Tom Minerich said the first priority is connecting everyone in town; there are three suppliers that can do that and Spectrum has already offered a no-cost solution separate from any future proposals. “(That) was the initial thing we talked about. I think that's very important. I also like the idea of us having an intranet within the downtown area not necessarily business to business, but at least some way for people pulling up in boats to be able to connect into our internet.”

Chair Tricia Warren said while Spectrum has the capability of supporting broad public access WiFi/hotspots downtown, LCI has mapped out specific plans. Member Ken Rayle said it will be interesting to see its take on hotspots, how Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor’s proposals differ and if there will be a way to leverage things for a more uniform regional deal.

Committee members agreed hearing out Spectrum’s proposal for Boothbay Harbor is the next priority. Latter said she would try and reconnect with Larochelle for an Aug. 2 meeting.