The town of Hampden is considering whether to borrow $4.5 million to build a community fiber optic network that would be available to every resident and business.
The Hampden Town Council will hold a public hearing remotely at 6 p.m. Monday on the proposal. If the council approves it, residents would decide in the November election whether to approve the borrowing.
It would be paid for by subscribers, so property taxes would not increase, according to Amy Ryder, economic development director for the town.
At least 938 homes would need to connect to the network to repay the $4.5 bond issue over 20 years, Ryder said.
The town would own the network but service would be provided by Axiom Technologies LLC, based in Machias, she said. Fees would range from about $60 per month for a speed of 50 megabits per second to nearly $200 per month for a speed of one gigabit per second.
Download and upload speeds — the time it takes to receive and send information — would be the same if the plan is approved.
Currently, about 335 homes in Hampden are considered to be underserved by internet service. Those residents can only access internet speeds that are below the state standard of at least 50 megabits for receiving information and 10 megabits for sending information.
While federal funds from the the American Rescue Plan Act can be used to upgrade broadband networks, Hampden will not receive enough federal money to pay for the proposed fiber optic network.
If approved, the town would create a fund to help people with limited incomes pay the subscription fees, Ryder said.
Following the public hearing, the council will hold a special meeting remotely.