After a highly competitive process, the ConnectMaine Authority awarded the 2021 Round 1 statewide broadband infrastructure grants on May 26. Lincolnville Communications Inc. and Tidewater Telecom Inc., in collaboration with the town of Bristol, were chosen to receive one of those grants.
The $141,150 grant will support the Bristol fiber-to-the-home build-out project that will bring high-speed fiber-optic broadband to an additional 257 unserved homes and businesses. A local, private foundation, which wishes to remain anonymous, contributed $100,000 to the effort. Lincolnville Communications and Tidewater Telecom will invest $323,450 of their own capital into the project.
The total cost to build out approximately 12 miles of new fiber-optic broadband network in Bristol, and to provide access to the 257 new locations, is $564,600.
Last fall, Lincolnville Communications and Tidewater Telecom secured approximately $600,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds to build out 22 new miles of fiber-optic network in Bristol. When combined with the 21 miles of Tidewater Telecom fiber that already existed in Bristol, the additional 12 new miles of fiber-optic coverage that will be built under this 2021-22 ConnectMaine project will mean all previously unserved homes in Bristol will exceed the minimum service levels. Fifty-two percent of Bristol residents will have access to blazing-fast fiber-optic broadband at the conclusion of this project, by June 2022.
Shirley Manning, owner and president of Tidewater Telecom, said, “It’s been our honor to work collaboratively with the town of Bristol to secure this important grant. Bringing this advanced fiber-optic broadband technology to every home and business in our region is our ultimate goal.”
“Our deep appreciation goes out to our governor, Janet Mills, for recognizing the need for broadband services for all of Maine residents and for putting in place the programs and funds to make it happen,” Manning said. “We also want to thank the private foundation in Bristol, whose generous contribution to this critical infrastructure improvement for Bristol made this project possible.”
Randal Manning, vice president of operation and engineering, said, “It has been a real challenge to continue our fiber-to-the-home build-out during the COVID pandemic, especially for our technicians who have to go to customer homes to install the services. The employees at our company always exceed our expectations in meeting all deadlines and keeping everyone safe.
“With the help of ConnectME, private foundations, as well as our municipal partners, we have been able to, and will continue to, meet all of our obligations and our commitment to bring the very best broadband connections to communities that require these vital services.”
Last year, the voters of Maine supported a $15 million broadband bond for rural, unserved Maine communities. Those funds are now making this rapid expansion of fiber-optic broadband possible.
“The fact that over 250 unserved homes and businesses will have access to super-fast and reliable broadband in Bristol is awesome,” said Alan Hinsey, director of marketing and sales for Lincolnville Communications and Tidewater Telecom.
“We are so proud to be a part of this effort, and proud that the town of Bristol will reach the 52% (fiber-to-the-home) milestone,” Hinsey said. “Our goal is to continue to work with Bristol until it’s one of the next 100% (fiber-to-the-home) communities in Midcoast Maine.”
This is the 18th ConnectMaine broadband grant that Lincolnville Communications and Tidewater Telecom have been awarded. All 17 of the previous grant projects have been completed on time and within budget, bringing blazing-fast fiber-optic broadband to over 3,000 rural homes and businesses.