Houlton-based Pioneer Broadband will start replacing its copper cable lines in the towns of Sherman and Stacyville with about 16 miles of high-speed fiber-optic cable.

Pioneer Broadband said it plans to start replacing its cable lines this month, swapping what it said is a 50-year-old network.

The company said it is privately financing the expansion in Sherman. It has received state support for expanding fiber-optic networks around Houlton from the ConnectME Authority in the most recent round of grants.

Jeff Packard of the Upper Valley Economic Council said in a news release that the faster service “will be a major boost for existing businesses and a major asset to enhance business within the area, and the migration of new businesses to the area.”

Earlier this year, Pioneer’s spokesman Don Flewelling said the company has about 40 miles of fiber-optic cable in Houlton and plans to build out more.

Flewelling said the company that started in 1996 in Presque Isle as the Maine Farmer’s Exchange has been transitioning away from wireless and DSL Internet in favor of fiber, which he said will serve demand for higher speeds further into the future and cost the company less once in operation.

The Legislature considered a number of bills dealing with broadband this year and passed into law a bill that expands the goals of the ConnectME Authority in helping municipalities with broadband network planning and calls for the agency to craft a strategic plan every three years.

A bill to expand state funds to support rural Internet services was carried over to the next session.

Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.