Bath gets new fiber optic broadband, but some rural residents feel left out

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(Left to right) Marcy Leger, Christian Leger, Laurie Reed, Peter Johnson and Bill Davenport. All work on The Bath Fiber Optic Alliance. Photo provided by: Marcy Leger.

Many residents of Bath now have the option of signing up for the new high-speed fiber optic internet service, but some of those in more rural areas of the city feel left out.

North Bath business owners Marcy Leger and Christian Leger formed the Bath Fiber Optics Alliance after internet entrepreneurs revealed that more than 500 rural homes would be left out of new high-speed fiber optic construction in Bath.

The city is replacing its current copper cable system with fiber, usually glass or plastic.

In addition to transmitting signals faster and farther, fiber is less susceptible to poor weather conditions and allows home generators to maintain an Internet connection during temporary power outages, according to GoNetspeed.com.

Bath City Manager Marc Meyers said many businesses in Bath had benefited from high-speed fiber for years, but the city’s new facility would reach residences for the first time, at the exception of those living in North and South Bath.

“GoNetSpeed ​​has been in Bath for the past year working on installing fiber in the densest areas of Bath,” Meyers said. “The installation is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2022, making fiber available to over 3,500 additional properties in Bath. Downtown properties have had fiber access through Lincolnville Communications or GWI for over a decade.

Running a home health marketing business in North Bath is tough for Christian Leger. He said “spotty internet service” is an ongoing problem.

Marcy Leger remembers visiting the local library to email large files when her internet signal wasn’t strong enough.

North Bath resident Alicia Romac echoed the couple’s concerns by comparing the city’s current internet system to “an early 1900s telephone line”.

“We have terrible internet, cell phone and landline service despite having tried multiple providers,” Romac said. “As a professional working remotely, I often get frustrated with dropped calls, being told that my phone connection quality is poor, and the frequent loss of internet connectivity. conduct important business.

With its 50 members, the Bath Fiber Optics Alliance will apply for a grant through the Maine Connectivity Authority – a government broadband broadband advocate – to fund community outreach. If the funds were granted, the next step would be to apply for a Connect the Ready grant to support future fiber optic construction in North Bath.

Christian Leger said high-speed internet is not just crucial for businesses that hold meetings via Zoom or send large files, but also for seniors who need to stay in touch with loved ones. He said that “everyone is expected to have a good internet connection today”.

As a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Mainers are now working from home. According to the Maine Department of Labor, 34% of households reported at least one adult working remotely in March 2021.

Meyers said he supports the group’s efforts to “engage residents and landlords in underserved areas” and looks forward to the advancement of fiber optics in Bath.

“The city’s support in this area is really strong and we’re really pleased with the level of collaboration we’ve been able to establish so far,” said Marcy Leger.

To check your internet coverage area, go to gonetspeed.vetro.io/map#5/43.91/-69.98.

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