City seeking big bucks for high-speed Internet

ELLSWORTH — The city has applied for a quarter-million-dollar grant that would pay for the installation of infrastructure for high-speed, fiber-optic Internet service in the city’s core.

Such Internet service, officials said, would be a boon to businesses that have to transfer large amounts of data as part of their work — such as The Jackson Laboratory, which is expanding its operations into the former Lowe’s building on Beckwith Hill.

The grant, if awarded, would be worth $250,000. It would come from the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC), which has a goal of distributing $4.5 million in grant funds across 36 counties in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York by this fall.

Micki Sumpter, the city’s economic development coordinator, said high-speed Internet was something that the Ellsworth Business Development Corp. (EBDC) began looking at soon after it was formed a year ago.

Jason Ingalls, technology systems administrator, said if the city receives the grant it would be able to install about two miles of fiber-optic cable. It would stretch from the Commerce Park off of State Street to The Jackson Lab building on Kingsland Crossing.

The grant also would cover costs of installing a hub station, where necessary hardware for the fiber lines would be housed. City officials have said part of the Collier’s Nursing Home on Birch Avenue could be used for that purpose.

The city will acquire the Collier’s building when First Atlantic, which currently owns the building, moves into its new nursing home and assisted living facility behind the Moore Community Center on State Street later this year.

Ingalls explained that high-speed fiber lines work by sending an optical light along fiber cables, instead of using traditional copper cables that carry electrical signals. He said fiber lines allow for data to be transferred much faster and much farther than with traditional lines.

Businesses, and possibly residential customers later on, located along the route of the fiber cable could tap into it, though there would likely be a cost for the connection. Ingalls said the city probably wouldn’t provide the actual Internet service, but would instead just install the necessary infrastructure.

NBRC said it hopes to award grants before Sept. 1.

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Steve Fuller

Steve Fuller

Reporter at The Ellsworth American,
Steve Fuller worked at The Ellsworth American from 2012 to early 2018. He covered the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. A native of Waldo County, he served as editor of Belfast's Republican Journal prior to joining the American. He lives in Orland.
Steve Fuller

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