As of Tuesday, bored kids on Vinalhaven went from having a measly hundred or so TV channels with Time Warner Cable to listings up to channel 998 (Food Network).
Residents, businesspeople on vacation and tourists in North Haven also soon will have access to high-speed data and phone services from Time Warner.
The change was implemented Tuesday on Vinalhaven, and by December, Time Warner Cable plans to offer digital phone, extended TV listings and high-speed Internet to North Haven, too. All of this at roughly the same rates as those on the mainland.
This change, said Time Warner spokesperson Andrew Russell, is in line with Gov. John Baldacci’s initiative to connect 90 percent of Maine homes and businesses with high-speed Internet by the end of this year. The projects on the islands will affect several hundred customers, who will now have more options.
“Any time you’re able to bring in advanced technology, it significantly enhances the economic and education opportunities in the communities,” Russell said Wednesday.
Vinalhaven School bookkeeper Penny Lazaro said in a phone interview Wednesday that her neighbors have hundreds of TV channels through Direct TV and the DSL Internet is working just fine.
“High speed Internet? I don’t think anyone on the island has that that I’m aware of. But DSL is pretty fast,” she said.
FairPoint Communications spokesperson Jeff Nevins said Wednesday that his company already offers high-speed Internet to both islands, though not everyone has access to the service yet. He was unsure exactly how many were already connected.
Valerie Morton, a librarian on Vinalhaven, has dial-up Internet at her home through another provider. She said her Internet takes “forever.”
“Not everyone has [DSL], they have dial-up connections. It would be a good thing to have high-speed and not dial-up,” she said.
“The Internet high-speed access is in demand on the islands because right now they don’t have fast Internet, as we’re able to offer,” said Russell, the spokesman for Time Warner.
Time Warner has not offered services on North Haven before but will lease space on a submerged fiber-optic line owned by Fox Island Electric Co. that runs from Rockport to the island, according to Russell.
As for Vinalhaven, Time Warner remapped the island and built a microwave antenna to deliver all three services — phone, Internet and digital cable — there, he said.