What is chebeague.net?
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Prior to 2006, people on Chebeague Island were seeking a way to bring the speed, reliability, and efficiency of broadband Internet service to the Island, along with the economic development it supports. People grew tired of connection speeds measured in dozens of kilobits per second when the rest of the world measures its bandwidth in megabits and gigabits. Despite our proximity to broadband service as little as a mile away from Chebeague's shores, technology had prevented us from "going that last mile." Time-Warner found it prohibitively expensive to bring cable modem (and television) to the Island and Fairpoint (formerly Verizon) was unwilling to deliver DSL (digital subscriber line) service to Chebeague.
In 2005, we managed to bring broadband to the Island for a couple of months, but the company providing the service pulled back for a variety of reasons, primarily financial (see this article), Beverly Johnson and David Hill have continued to seek ways to make dial-up Internet a thing of the past on Chebeague.
As is so often the case on Chebeague, we finally determined that doing it ourselves would be the only way to make it happen. So we formed chebeague.net, a Maine subchapter S corporation. Since that time, we've restructured to become a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in 2012.
We realized that we needed help to do it, both financially and technologically. So we assembled a group of local investors (including ourselves) to provide us with the capital needed to get the venture off the ground.
We also enlisted Mainely Wired, LLC (now Premium Choice Broadband) to provide us with bandwidth, equipment and (perhaps most importantly) engineering and technical assistance. They helped us to get the system up and running and trained us and other islanders in how to do new installations and keep the network running at optimum levels.
With the help of a $75,000 grant in 2007 from the ConnectME Authority, we built a network with the goal of being certain that all homes on Chebeague Island have access to broadband Internet services.
But, as one customer put it, "chebeague.net has been loved to death." So, we once again worked with the ConnectME Authority to upgrade our network and provide the bandwidth consistent with modern demands, with the help of another $75,000 grant and collaboration with MaineStream Internet (formerly Cornerstone Communications), Axiom Technologies, and GWI.
A new microwave link to the mainland is now in place to bring in more bandwidth with a higher speed scalable DSL system to deliver service to every home on Chebeague. The backbone for the bandwidth is a state-of-the art fiber optic cable running more than half the length of the Island.
A huge expression of gratitude is due to our local partners: to One City Center for providing a Portland location from which to send bandwidth; to the Ballard family for providing a Chebeague location to receive it, and to the Calder family for providing a location to distribute the bandwidth. And, finally, to John Wilson for providing the financing to bring fiber optic cable to the Island. Not to mention our LLC Members and our loyal and patient customers. Thank you, all!
This website describes broadband service in general, steps that our young company is taking to improve broadband service on Chebeague, and the opportunity that Chebeaguers now have to move into technology's 21st Century.
Beverly S. Johnson
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