Old News Archive

Cornerstone Applies to Bring Broadband to Rural Piscataquis

August 29, 2007 - TRC

Charleston — Cornerstone Communications, a provider of broadband (high-speed) internet services in eastern and central Maine, has applied for a grant to provide rapid expansion of broadband internet coverage to the Maine Highlands region.

The grant application will be reviewed by the ConnectME Authority, a new agency of Maine state government created to promote broadband services in rural parts of the state. The ConnectME Authority administers a fund created by the legislature for that purpose, and financed by a small surcharge on Maine customers’ phone bills.

Andrew Hinkley, general manager of Cornerstone, said that the company’s Maine Highlands project, if funded, will bring high-speed internet service to 25 communities in southern Piscataquis and western Penobscot counties – many of which have never had affordable high-speed access to the internet before.

"We have already deployed our rural broadband Internet service in the towns of Charleston and Sebec, both of which had no high-speed service before," Hinkley said.

"This service has been field-tested and warmly received by our customers in those towns, and we are ready to extend the service throughout our region."

Public input and support is required for any ConnectME grant application to be successful. Citizens in Cornerstone’s proposed service area who are in favor of their town receiving broadband services can help by writing a brief letter of support and mailing it to Sheila Grant at the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council (PCEDC), 50 Mayo Street, Dover-Foxcroft, 04426.

"It can be something as simple as ‘I am in favor of Cornerstone’s plan to bring broadband services to my town’ with a signature and address," said Sheila Grant, community development specialist at PCEDC. "But if you can explain why it’s important to you – a home business, work away from the office, taking on-line courses from the University of Maine, that sort of thing – that would be even better."

The proposed towns to be served are: Abbot, Atkinson, Barnard, Blanchard, Bowerbank, Bradford, Brownville, Charleston, Corinth, Dexter, Dover-Foxcroft, Elliotsville, Guilford, Hudson, Lagrange, Lake View Plantation, Milo, Monson, Orneville, Parkman, Sangerville, Sebec, T5 R9 NWP, Williamsburg, and Willimantic.

Cornerstone has also partnered with the Town of Monson in filing a separate grant application to bring DSL service to Monson and nearby Blanchard. The Monson application was prepared through the efforts of PCEDC staff.

Thirteen service providers or municipalities have applied for the initial round of ConnectME funding. In terms of the number of towns to be served, Cornerstone’s is the most ambitious plan submitted. Of the 13 applications, the region-wide Cornerstone plan and the Monson plan are the only two affecting the Maine Highlands region.

Both the Monson application and Cornerstone’s region-wide application make use of a combination of technologies.

Under the plan, the majority of customers would be served with high-speed DSL service over telephone lines, from equipment Cornerstone will install alongside Verizon’s pole-mounted "remote terminal" cabinets used to bring telephone service to many rural areas in the Maine Highlands region.

At the same time, Cornerstone will install high-capacity digital radio systems, which will bring wireless broadband internet access to a large number of homes that cannot be served by DSL.

Cornerstone is the only ConnectME grant applicant proposing this "multi-modal" approach to service delivery in Maine’s rural areas. The "overlay" of area coverage by the two technologies will greatly increase the number of homes that can be reached by some form of broadband internet service.

Cornerstone Communications already serves parts of the towns of Dexter, Dover-Foxcroft, Charleston, and Sebec. This project will also include extending service to the more outlying areas of those communities.

For more information, call Hinkley at 285-7174 or Grant at 564-3638.

Andrew H. Hinkley, General Manager Cornerstone Communications, LLC
Charleston, ME 04422 (207) 285-7174 Fax: (207) 285-7173

Sheila Grant, Community Development Specialist
19 School Road PCEDC, Dover-Foxcroft, ME 04426
Tel: (207) (207) 564-3638 sgrant@pcedc.org

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.