East Coast Localities Eye Municipal Broadband


One county and one town on the east coast are looking at the possibility of building out municipal broadband networks.

Last week, Cumberland County, Maine issued a request for proposals asking network infrastructure providers to provide solutions that local municipalities could use to start their own networks. The community broadband development study in Cumberland County will be funded by a $25,000 community development block grant.

According to a piece in the Press Herald, a local paper, the county is looking at ways to create a regional broadband utility. That format would allow for a set of common standards across local municipal networks and may also help the area create a more economical networking infrastructure. The proposed service area includes the islands of Casco Bay in Maine, which means that the network will have to support long range voice and data transmission, which could require the use of new technologies like TV White Space Broadband.

In addition to creating a common format, the county will also be surveying locals to understand the demand for broadband service.

Meanwhile, Erie, Pennsylvania is expanding its network with help from the National League of Cities, the Erie Innovation District and Velocity Network. Erie’s local innovation district is currently working through a plan that would expand its existing free wifi service area to include the whole city. The idea for the expansion came from work the National League of Cities is doing on creating municipal innovation ecosystems. Cities that are effective at creating one of these ecosystems will be highlighted by NLC at their annual convention.

Cities throughout the US are currently exploring municipal broadband networks as the cost of networking infrastructure has gone down and it becomes harder to convince large incumbent providers like ATT, Comcast, and Verizon that less densely populated areas need high-speed broadband too.