What is Connect St George?

Connect St George is a community broadband working group. We are a committee of concerned residents operating through the St George Community Development Corporation (CDC), located at 47 Main St. in Tenants Harbor, Maine.

Our mission is to guide the community toward achieving universal access to high-speed reliable internet to support education, local businesses, healthcare, civic engagement and aging in place.

For more information about the CDC, follow the links below:

What is high speed internet service?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines broadband (or high speed internet) as having minimum data transfer speeds of 25/3 (25 megabytes per second download / 3 mb/s upload).

Our committee takes this definition further. We expect that an ISP must reliably provide minimum speeds of 25/3, rain or shine, regardless of how many people are currently using the network. This additional requirement excludes many other ISPs including Consolidated, Verizon and satellite services.

Which internet service providers (ISPs) operate in St George?

  • Charter / Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable) *
  • Consolidated
  • Verizon
  • Satellite services / all other

* Meets our committee’s minimum definition for high speed internet

Current Internet Coverage in St George

To visualize current coverage in St George, visit the map

  • Approximately 85% of the residences in St George have access to Charter / Spectrum. Charter / Spectrum offers plans that meet our group’s minimum definition for high speed internet.
  • 40-45% of the residences that have access to Charter / Spectrum, take their service. This number is the take rate.
  • All other residences either have access to Consolidate (DSL), Verizon or other satellite services.

Why is high speed internet service important?

There are many reasons why high speed internet (hsri) is important.

Our community currently uses the internet for school, continuing education, work, telehealth and business. For each of these needs, high speed internet is important.

TODO this is a stub – needs to be compelling and address 5G, beyond 5G, etc.

Challenges & Issues

  • Identifying residences who don’t have access to high speend internet.

What contributes to the cost of expanding a broadband network?

  • Labor
  • Cable (fiber optic or copper)
  • Amplifiers
  • Other equipment…
  • Distance
  • Take rate (number of homes that take service) – this increases cost at the beginning during the build phase. However, as more subscribers are added, they eventually help pay for the infrastructure over time.
  • Make ready (cost for preparing a telephone pole for the cable)
  • New poles (approximately 10% of poles need to be replaced before new cable is run)

How would an incumbent provider expand service?

Take this question:
“I need high speed internet service in St George that will grow with my needs for the foreseeable future.”

You need internet transmitted through fiber optic cables.

Spectrum has their own private service lines all over the peninsula with fiber optic trunk lines on Rt 131 (at least). In order to serve a neighborhood within the community with fiber, they would need to tap into the nearest fiber line.

Pros

  • Costs less
  • Takes less time (maybe)
  • Spectrum could subsidize the build out (of their own network)

Cons

  • Spectrum owns the network and the equipment.
  • If we help them pay for it, our Town has subsidized building their network.

How would Axiom, LCI, GWI, etc. (non-incumbent) expand service?

Take the same question:
“I need high speed internet service in St George that will grow with my needs for the foreseeable future.”

You need internet transmitted through fiber optic cables.

A non-incumbent provider has no fiber optic cable in St George. However, the nearest public fiber is on Rt 1. That’s relatively close (compared to many other communities with the same issue).

In order to serve fiber to St George, a non-incumbent would need to run fiber down Rt 131 to St George. This main cable is referred to as a trunk line. Smaller cables that run from the trunkline are branchlines.

Incumbents (Spectrum) typically do not share access to any of their lines.

Pros

  • After a trunk line is run, other costs would likely be similar to Spectrum’s costs
  • Smaller, non-incumbents can offer municipalities ways in which to pay for the build out (see Ownership Models)
  • If the Town of St George owns the fiber network, they can lease it to any service provider now or into the future.
  • It’s typical that there’s an upfront contract that determines which ISP(s) will operate on the network (at least to start).

Cons

  • The initial expense of running fiber from Rt 1 down Rt 131 is high.

Network ownership models

from Island Inst Brochure

Incumbent owned and operated

  • We help Spectrum expand existing network

Community owned, ISP operated

  • Likely providing symmetrical speed capabilities

Community owned, single-payer to ISP

  • Likely administered by the municipality

Community owned and operated

  • Likely by leasing to the ISP(s)

Financial models to pay for network and service

from Island Inst Brochure

Incumbent investments

  • Subsidies
  • Unlikely to include public involvement

Philanthropic

  • Requires a financially legit recipient
  • Wouldn’t likely pay for all
  • Less than $50k likely

Municipal reserve funds

  • Town or council vote is required
  • Unlikely more than $100k

Municipal load / credit

  • Requires town vote
  • Likely 10s of thousands of dollars / year

Municipal bond / dept

  • Town or council vote
  • $500K+

State infrastructure grants

  • Likely between $500k and a few million
  • Requirement: matching $ from ISP or town

Federal infrastructure grants

  • Competitive and onerous
  • Matching $ from the recipient and high community support required