September 16, 2019
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Town of Oakland launches broadband survey to determine technological needs of community

Community Author: Elaine Theriault-Currier
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Elaine Theriault-Currier | BDN
Elaine Theriault-Currier | BDN

OAKLAND – The Oakland Broadband and Technology Committee is launching an online take-rate survey to identify the current and future technological needs of Oakland’s residents and businesses.

In December of 2018, the Town of Oakland was awarded $15,000 in grant funding from the Maine Community Foundation to explore the potential extension of its current broadband infrastructure into Oakland’s downtown district. After months of identifying broadband infrastructure gaps and culling best practices from other communities, the committee hopes to use the survey results to review internet service models that may create a more cost-competitive landscape that will result in attracting, expanding, and/or retaining businesses and residents to Oakland.

“We want to understand what Oakland consumers expect of their internet service, and to what extent those expectations are currently met,” said Oakland Town Manager Gary Bowman. “We can use that data to analyze plans for extending the town’s current fiber optics network and determine what would be best for the people of Oakland. We are incorporating their voice at every possible opportunity.”

Like many rural Maine communities, Oakland is served by as few as one or two internet service providers, whose internet speeds vary widely throughout the town. Unlike many rural communities, Oakland already has a patchwork system of fiber. Implemented through a 2007 federal grant, the system services select municipal buildings skirting Oakland’s downtown district, but does not connect to the many businesses and residences.

Thanks to the 2018 Maine Community Foundation grant, the committee embarked on project intended to analyze how best to take advantage of its current broadband infrastructure assets to bring fast, reliable, and affordable access to Oakland consumers, thereby supporting Oakland business recruitment and growth.

“Maine’s rural towns receive some of the slowest internet speeds in the country, and the expense of providing internet to small municipalities translates into higher internet costs for consumers,” said Garvan D. Donegan, director of economic development and planning at Central Maine Growth Council. “The OBTC take-rate survey will give us the data needed to present a solid case on broadband extension and to advocate for the needs of Oakland residents and businesses.”

Oakland residents and business owners are encouraged to respond to the brief survey before Oct. 31 The survey, now live, can be found on the Town of Oakland’s website at oaklandmaine.us) or centralmaine.org.

“We greatly appreciate the feedback from Oakland consumers, and we look forward to incorporating their voice into our recommendations,” said Danielle Marquis, a volunteer member of the committee.

Central Maine Growth Council

Central Maine Growth Council is the leading public/private catalyst and resource for economic development in Central Maine. The growth council is dedicated to fostering a robust regional economy through successful collaborative partnerships among businesses, governments, academic institutions, health care facilities, arts and cultural agencies, and residents primarily in the communities of Waterville, Winslow, Fairfield and Oakland. The benefit is a highly desirable place in which to enjoy an outstanding work-life balance.