Timing and Progress

 

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    What is the timing for the transition?
    How are things going?

 

AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

We are pleased to announce that in November of 2013 we installed a fiber optic cable running from the West End to chebeague.net's DSL equipment near the Clam Shack.  We withdrew our request to the Town of Chebeague Island for financial assistance.

This important (and expensive!) step in the development of chebeague.net enabled us to immediately double our available bandwidth at the time and went a long way toward solving the slowdown problems observed in the past.

Plus, it set the stage to provide more bandwidth as demand dictates in the future.  We have raised our current bandwidth limit from 35 Mbps to 100 Mbps through upgrades to our microwave radio and moving our bandwidth feed to One City Center in Portland.

We greatly appreciate the support and patience of our community as we strive to deliver the broadband Internet service that Chebeague Island deserves and needs.

The deployment of DSL service across the Island is virtually complete, with only a handful of customers still on wireless.  The sequence of events has been as follows:

bulletEstablish microwave link from mainland (Portland's Back Bay Tower) DONE!
 
bulletEstablish FairPoint line link from West End to DSL interchange near the Clam Shack --  DONE!  However, this method of transmission limited our bandwidth to 10.5 Mbps.  This was remedied by the replacement of telephone lines with fiber optic cable.
 
bulletInstall DSL equipment at DSL interchange DONE!
 
bulletInstall CMP power; Ken Pelton installed the meter and wiring DONE!
 
bulletEstablish FairPoint line links to Inn, Boat Yard, Rec Center DONE!
 
bulletReplace T1 lines at Inn, Boat Yard, and Rec Center -- Boat Yard:  DONE!
(At this point, we were able to retire the T1 lines.  As a result, bandwidth for wireless customers was broadcast with higher capacity and speed)
 
bulletInstall DSL service at Town Office (DONE!) and eleven other locations served by radio from CTC Blanchard Lot on Cousins Island  DONE!
(This enabled the retirement of the T1 line at the Blanchard Lot with associated cost savings)
 
bulletInstall DSL service at homes currently unserved or underserved by former wireless network COMPLETED!
 
bulletOffer three DSL service levels to all others on Chebeague  NOW AVAILABLE!
We have made well over TWO HUNDRED successful DSL installations with greatly improved speed and reliability.
 
bulletUpgrade from telephone wire transmission from the West End to the Clam Shack with fiber optic cable  DONE!  (See the completed fiber timeline)

The following chart shows what the upgrade from telephone wires to fiber optic did for our bandwidth at the time we made the switch.  With the telephone lines, we were limited to about 10.5 Mbps and we regularly hit that limit, meaning slower speeds for everyone.  Now, we're limited only by the amount of bandwidth we're buying. 

Here's another chart that shows what happens when we increase our bandwidth.  In November of 2013, we went from 10 Mbps to 20 Mbps with the installation of the fiber optic cable.  Then in June of 2014, we went, to 30 Mbps by increasing the bandwidth sent from Portland.  Most recently this was increased to 35 Mbps.  The blank space in September of last year is when I went off to a conference, there was a power failure, and my computer failed to reboot automatically.

 

In late June of 2015, we completely revamped our system, replacing our bandwidth supplier, replacing our microwave equipment, changing the Portland transmission site, renumbering all of our IP addresses, and tripling our bandwidth to 100 Mbps.  All within a two day period.  The following chart updates the one above to show our progress.

 

Finally, this chart shows how bandwidth usage varies during a day in July, 2015.  We're well under our limit of 100 Mbps, but it is almost a certainty that even this new ceiling will be challenged within a year or so.  Note the peak usage times around 1:00 pm and between 8:00 and 10:00 pm.  Netflix is popular!


 

Rumors, a way of life on Chebeague

To dispel a rumor that has been going around that if chebeague.net did not exist, we would have fiber optic Internet from the mainland available on the island, much like Long Island.  This couldn't be further from the truth.  Before chebeague.net, we tried for years to work with Verizon and then FairPoint to bring the Internet to Chebeague by any means possible. There was never any “non-compete” agreement that would have prevented Verizon, FairPoint, TimeWarner, or anyone else from providing Internet to Chebeague, nor is there any such agreement in place today.

Long Island was fortunate in that an upgrade to their underwater telephone cable was desperately needed and fiber optic was used, thereby enabling high-speed Internet transmission to their island.

The investment FairPoint would have to make to bring such a fiber optic line to Chebeague would take generations for them to recoup. It is a safe bet that they won’t bring fiber to Chebeague until our copper wears out, as it did on Long Island, and that will not happen soon. Without chebeague.net, it's fair to say we'd still be dependent on dial-up for affordable Internet service.

Another rumor we've heard is that the Chebeague Inn installed and paid for the T1 lines installed at the Inn and they let chebeague.net use them at no cost.  To the contrary, prior to DSL service, those lines were installed and were paid for by chebeague.net and we provided Internet service to the Inn in exchange for their letting us keep our antenna on the roof of the Inn back when we were broadcasting wireless service from that location.

We've heard that chebeague.net is running its business on the Library server, using precious storage space. Actually, all our computing is done on our own machines at our homes with the exception of e-mail, which is run on a server by a friend of ours in the Bangor area.  This chebeague.net website resides on the server in the Library, taking up about 4 megs of space out of 212 gigs available (0.0018%).

And here's the latest:  "Defining it as 'high speed' made us ineligible for grants for rural access.  So no competition."  The truth is that we've received two grants from the state totaling $150,000 but were turned down for federal funding not because we're "high speed" (as is every other grant recipient in the nation), but because we were too close to a served area (ignoring the water barrier in between) and the size of our project was too small compared to other applicants.  As for competition, GWI, FairPoint, Verizon, TimeWarner, Comcast and every other Internet provider in Maine have chosen to avoid Chebeague.  Their choice, not ours, probably because they recognize that they could never turn a profit on such a small and remote Island.  So chebeague.net fills the gap without the profit motive.

if you hear any rumors about chebeague.net, please bring them to us and we will either confirm them or try to set the record straight.

(Updated August 15, 2016)

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