An Alabama-based company is offering fiber optic internet access in parts of Yarmouth this spring as a town working group explores broadband connectivity, infrastructure issues and broadband expansion.
Otelco, a telecommunications provider with offices in Gray and New Gloucester, will make the service accessible to Yarmouth residents and businesses west of Interstate 295. The area was chosen because of its population density and because it won’t require construction over the interstate, which would have been “cost-prohibitive,” according to Otelco Public Relations Manager Tracy Sheckel.
Otelco may expand its Yarmouth service depending on the demand for fiber east of I-295 and in other areas in town. If there’s a cluster where there’s a desire for fiber, the company will consider expanding there, Sheckel said.
Fiber internet differs from other internet providers, such as cable, because it works better over long distances, Sheckel said. Fiber also provides a connection with the same simultaneous upload and download speeds.
Otelco’s services will likely be available to those eligible by late spring, with three options ranging from $59.95 to $79.95 per month.
“My interest was making sure everyone in town gets the broadband coverage they need, even those on the east side of 295, which includes the coastline and Cousins Island,” said Town Councilor David Craig, the council liaison for the working group. “My question to Otelco and town council was, what does the town need to do to make expanding this more attractive? I still don’t have an answer to that, but that’s part of what we’re looking into.”
The working group has just begun meeting to gather information on the internet providers now available to residents and how satisfied people are with their options.
“A lot of what the working group has been doing is looking at best practices from what other communities have done for public outreach,” Yarmouth Director of Economic Development Scott LaFlamme said. “There are some great survey tools available … and there may be an opportunity for Zoom webinars where we can also get live feedback. We’re not shutting the door on any type of outreach.”
LaFlamme said the group’s findings will be presented to the town council, which will decide the next steps. Anyone interested in joining the group or providing feedback about their internet can contact LaFlamme at [email protected] Updates on the working group’s progress can be found on the town’s website.