Like many rural communities, the Town of Fort Fairfield has limited connectivity to the Internet, once you stray from the more urban sections of downtown. Many rural residents and businesses struggle to find reliable, fast Internet service, which impacts their ability to work from home, connect with friends and family, or communicate effectively with others. And like many rural communities, Fort Fairfield has limited resources with which to improve this situation without investments made by private Internet Service Providers and other partners.
This fall, the Town conducted a door-to-door Internet Access Survey, which provided insights on existing Internet infrastructure and service. Survey results have already been provided to companies interested in upgrading the community’s connectivity, and to the ConnectME Authority, a component of state government charged with helping to facilitate improvements in Maine’s broadband service.
Upon learning about Fort Fairfield’s efforts, the James W. Sewall Company reached out to the Town with an offer of help. Sewall, which has been helping corporate and municipal clients with engineering needs for more than 135 years, has offered to conduct a Broadband Feasibility Study for the town, free of charge. The study will look at the current telecommunications infrastructure, provide the Town with valuable information about options to improve Internet access and speeds, and position it to seek partnerships and funding to improve broadband access throughout the community.
“This is a great opportunity for Sewall to use its resources and industry expertise to assist the people of Fort Fairfield,” said Brian Lippold, Sewall’s Director of Broadband and Telecom Consulting. “There is a growing realization among Maine communities that fast, reliable Internet access may not reach them as quickly as they would like, or reach everyone in their community. By conducting a feasibility study, we can help municipalities better understand their assets and options moving forward.”
The study, which will take nearly four months to complete, will look at every broadband option currently being deployed in the community and provide a detailed analysis of the challenges and opportunities available to address the issue.
“We just do not have the population and business base for most Internet service providers to make the necessary investments to improve connectivity in a community as large and spread-out as ours,” stated Jim Risner, Fort Fairfield Town Manager. “We appreciate this generous offer from Sewall to partner with us in conducting a feasibility study, building on the project which we started, and providing us more data to make a well-informed decision as we work to improve our broadband access.”
The feasibility study will assess and map current Internet infrastructure and access within the community, look at options to address substandard broadband connectivity and their associated costs, and provide the town with information to help chart a course to faster and more reliable Internet access. As part of this process, all residents and businesses in the community will be encouraged to take part in an in-depth Internet survey and public meetings about broadband connectivity to be conducted early in 2016.
Founded in 1880, Sewall is an international consulting organization specializing in natural resources, energy, and infrastructure. The company’s diverse portfolio is based on 135 years' experience in surveying, forestry consulting, and civil engineering; 65 years' in remote sensing; and 30 years' in GIS and other geospatial services. www.sewall.com
For more information, please contact Tim Goff at (207) 472-3802; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Brian Lippold at (207) 233-2976; Email: Brian.email@example.com.