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Report from the field: Clearing the way for construction in Maine
Since the Three Ring Binder project received BTOP funding in December 2009, we have been hard at work moving forward to make this project a reality for Maine. One of the first steps we took was working with state legislators and telecom, business, and community stakeholders to pass a state law (as reported in the Bangor Daily News) establishing a new class of utility called a Dark Fiber Provider (DFP). This law will allow the Maine Fiber Company (MFC) to use utility poles to provide leased fiber on an open access, non-discriminatory basis to other telecom carriers and institutional users, thereby meeting BTOP’s open network requirements.
We’ve also recently submitted the Environmental Assessment required for the installation of fiber-optic cable along an estimated 36,000 telephone poles. The assessment included detailed consultations with the US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Administration, Maine State Historic Preservation Office, Maine State Planning Office, Native American Tribes, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. By completing this assessment, we’ve cleared the way to begin construction across 1,100 miles of rural Maine.
Meanwhile, community anchor institutions are signing up for service along the BTOP funded route. MFC is in talks with the University of Maine system to connect campuses all over the State with a dark fiber network capable of supporting an ultra-modern 10-gigabit research network that will eventually link University of Maine Campuses with the University of New Hampshire.
Private development spurred by the Three Ring Binder project is also taking place: A Maine-based telecom carrier recently completed construction on fiber laterals between the Three Ring Binder route to six locations on a hospital campus. Another private company is building a privately funded fiber cable from the Southern end of the Three Ring Binder to Dover, New Hampshire, to provide inter-office switching and faster, less expensive connection to the Internet for carriers operating in Maine. Yet another private company is actively seeking data center development opportunities along the Three Ring Binder route to service government and private customers seeking data center space with fast connectivity to the North and South. All in all, we’re very pleased with the progress we’re making and hard at work on the next steps.