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BTOP Triumph: 3 Ring Binder Fiber Complete in Maine
Sunday, 30 September 2012 18:23

3 Ring Binder

On schedule, truly open, reaching unserved. “I’m going to bake us a cake,” promised a woman in Big Lake Township, who proceeded to hug Tim McAfee of Pioneer Broadband for connecting her home with fiber. (Maine Sun Journal) Over 100 communities in Maine are connected by one of the three fiber rings of the Maine Fiber Network . McAfee, Fletcher Kittridge of GWI, Craig Gunderson of Oxford Networks and other local entrepreneurs are renting the fiber for $10-20/mile/month. They then offer services, including GWI’s “Gigabit Main Street” in Orono and Old Town. Part of the national “Gig-U” project, GWI is working with the University of Maine to deliver fiber speeds unavailable in Verizon’s Boston or AT&T’s Chicago.
    There’s a large area unserved on the map, but almost all of it is “Unorganized Territories” with few towns. The project cost was $32M, not much to bring a backbone to nearly a million people. That was enough for 1,000 miles of new fiber, network gear and facilities, and project overhead. Subtracting the other costs of the project, I estimate they spent $20-25K/mile or slightly higher, confirming the realistic costs in mixed terrain of a fiber build.
    CEO Dwight Allison said. “We built a highway through the state and said as long as you pay the toll anybody can get on this,” he said. “That means more competition, more startups. You can start a GWI-type of company now and have, in essence, a $32 million fiber network at your disposal without having to write out a $30 million check.” (MSJ)

Price of success: High costs per unserved, probable failure of incumbent Fairpoint

The primary purposes of the U.S. broadband stimulus were to reach the unserved and to create jobs. Three Ring Binder efficiently created jobs constructing the network with only modest overhead or waste. It also is effectively connecting the University of Maine and other public services, a secondary goal.
    There’s also good news for 30-40 families in Big Lake Township. Big Lake is proceeding based on expectations of $176K of local and state financing, That’s about $6K per home served, a lot of public money. There’s no reason to believe the company inflated the subsidy demanded; extreme rural builds often are that expensive. Many, probably most, of the BTOP projects, are backbones with no guarantee of ever connecting the unserved. 
    Also suffering will be Fairpoint, the incumbent that has already gone broke once. The local companies taking advantage of Three Ring Binder are likely to effectively win away Fairpoint customers. Other aggressive New England companies, like Vermont Tel where I’ve done some consulting, will further erode Fairpoint’s base. When Larry switched the stimulus funding from “unserved” homes to overbuilding existing fiber, he doomed some incumbent carriers.

Here’s the pr and also the filing for $4K/home passed in Big Lake Township

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Tom Janenda or Monica Castellanos
September 28, 2012 207-590-8815 or 207-240-2581
State, Congressional, Business And Community Leaders Celebrate Economic Development Impact
(Brunswick, Maine) – Maine state, congressional, business and community leaders gathered in Brunswick today to celebrate the ahead-of-schedule, on budget completion of Maine Fiber Company’s 1,100 mile fiber optic network highlighting the economic benefits already being felt and the tremendous economic development potential going forward.
“Maine’s Three Ring Binder network is complete and open for business,” said Maine Fiber Company CEO Dwight Allison. “As of today, any qualified company that wants access to fiber optic infrastructure to expand true high-speed Internet service to consumers and businesses across Maine can get access to fiber at affordable, non-discriminatory rates. That is good news for Maine’s economy and we are here today to say thank you to all of our state and congressional leaders, to the leaders at the U.S. Department of Commerce and the NTIA, and to our local business partners. This day would not have been possible without support from all of the people who saw the economic development potential of this network.”
Maine Fiber Company board member and partner Robert C.S. Monks also celebrated the network’s completion and thanked all of the stakeholders who helped make it happen. “What is exciting is that completion of the Three Ring Binder means Maine has one of the strongest fiber optic backbones in the entire country,” said Monks. “A recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce cited this network and ranked Maine number one in the nation for business friendly infrastructure. So, we are here to say thank you to those in this room, but also to say to entrepreneurs and businesses all over America – come build and grow your business here in Maine.”
While the full network was only recently completed, Maine Fiber’s Vice President of Business Development Jeff McCarthy noted that every request to lease Three Ring Binder fiber to date had been granted, that there are already 12 customers leasing fiber on the network and another 29 contracts under consideration. Three MFC customers – GWI, Oxford Networks and Pioneer Broadband - talked about how they were expanding service and growing their businesses already as a result of open access to fiber.
“The Three Ring Binder has already helped GWI expand high-speed Internet service to eight communities across the state – and we are building the first of many planned world class ‘Gigabit Main Street’ fiber networks in Old Town and Orono,” said GWI CEO Fletcher Kittredge. “With this kind of speed available to test and develop the next generation of technology applications, the next Google or Facebook could be born right here in Maine.”
"The Three Ring Binder offers Oxford Networks’ customers the opportunity to gain access to our data center not only on Oxford Networks redundant fiber network, but via a totally separate open access fiber network,” said Oxford Networks President and CEO Craig Gunderson. “In addition, it enables us to reach customers in locations we couldn't otherwise serve."
“Pioneer Broadband is already tapping into the Three Ring Binder to grow our company and connect more businesses and communities in northern Maine,” said Pioneer CEO Tim McAfee. “The last mile question is much easier and faster to solve with guaranteed access to fiber. We have already connected several unserved or underserved communities in Aroostook and Washington counties.”
Additional Evidence of Economic Impact Already Being Felt In Maine
• The work involved in building Maine Fiber Company’s 1,100 mile Three Ring Binder network supported about 400 jobs including 323 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions as calculated by the NTIA, plus about 75 other positions at firms across the state.
• MFC fiber is being used to provide cost-effective optical connectivity to over 50 commercial locations throughout Maine.
• 100 Community Anchor Institutions will now have direct optical connections to the 3RB. 80 are already connected.
• Axiom Technologies in Washington County is leveraging the Three Ring Binder to provide high speed Internet access to Down East Community Hospital and two underserved areas in Machias.
• The Three Ring Binder is driving economic development efforts in Aroostook County. Carl Flora, President and CEO of the Loring Development Authority in Limestone, a BRAC site, observed that, “Open access to this amount of reliable, path-diverse high-speed Internet infrastructure has already had a noticeable impact here at Loring. This new infrastructure project has opened up a whole bunch of new opportunities for economic growth in Limestone and rural Maine.”
• GWI is partnering with the towns of Old Town and Orono to build out a Gigabit Main Street network that make the University of Maine a leader in the national Gig-U initiative to create zones of economic innovation around college campuses across the country.
• The University of Maine System is leveraging the Three Ring Binder as the broadband backbone to connect all of its campuses. In addition, the Three Ring Binder is enabling the University System to be nationally competitive for National Science Foundation (NSF) grants which require applicants to have sufficient network infrastructure to offload research data, such as electron micrograph images, to other research institutions.
• The Town of Greenwood had been unable to find a carrier to serve their Town Garage location
with internet access, needed to insure the Town’s plow drivers are aware of storm conditions. They now lease fiber directly from MFC and extend internet to this critical location.
• The Town of Scarborough is leasing fiber from MFC to cost-effectively interconnect municipal buildings, including public safety locations.
• MFC fiber is being extended to 29 Maine Schools and Libraries Network (MSLN) sites in rural parts of the State, lowering costs and increasing bandwidth capabilities.
• Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick is leveraging the Three Ring Binder to transfer large files, such as CT scans, to specialists in Portland. This enables faster diagnoses and treatment for stroke victims.
As CAIs are built at rural healthcare clinics throughout the state, this benefit will be leveraged by people throughout Maine. The high speed broadband provided by the Three Ring Binder also enables the delivery of an array of telemedicine services.
• Mid Coast Hospital is also using the Three Ring Binder to connect numerous campuses to each other. In addition to facilitating the transfer of information, Mid Coast is leveraging high speed, secure networks that meet HIPPA requirements for patient confidentiality.
• The Three Ring Binder is being leveraged by multiple carriers to support 3G and 4G cellular backhaul in rural parts of Maine.
Support for Maine Fiber Company’s Three Ring Binder Network
Senator Olympia Snowe
“I cannot congratulate the Maine Fiber Company enough on this tremendous achievement. The completion of the Three Ring Binder Broadband Expansion Project will make great strides in advancing broadband access and fostering economic development in our great state. Through this incredible partnership, as well as the healthcare and higher education systems created with this endeavor, small businesses will now have a competitive edge in telecommunications access in Maine, which could not be more vital in these challenging economic times.”
Senator Susan Collins
“Broadband access is critical for education, healthcare, research, and improves quality of life. Unfortunately, Maine has the lowest rate of service in New England for households with Internet access, and the areas of northern, western and central Maine are particularly underserved. The Three Ring Binder fiber optic network broadband expansion will help close this digital divide and open new opportunities for job creation across our state.”
Congressman Mike Michaud
“The Three Ring Binder Project will be remembered as the initiative that helped truly connect Maine to the world. It has already directly connected so many critical Maine institutions, health centers, business hubs, community centers, and universities. There is no doubt that this project’s completion will help position our state for future growth.”
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree
“Reliable, high speed internet is critical to growing Maine's economy. Without access to broadband, it's getting increasingly hard for even the smallest businesses to compete in the modern economy. We are proud of the incredible work Maine Fiber has done to get the Three Ring Binder project done on budget and ahead of schedule. It's a great example of the ingenuity and hard work that are the hallmarks of Maine companies.”
DECD Commissioner George Gervais
“With the creation of the Three Ring Binder, Maine is better positioned to attract new companies, new investment and new jobs in areas we could have never imagined possible just ten years ago. Congratulations to Maine Fiber Company and all of the other people who helped make this network a reality. We look forward to helping businesses all over the state take advantage of this new economic development infrastructure.”
About Maine Fiber Company, Inc.: Maine Fiber Company, Inc. is a Maine owned and operated private company that is overseeing the construction, leasing, and maintenance of the Three Ring Binder, an open access, 1,100 mile high capacity fiber optic network. The Three Ring Binder will make broadband access more readily available to 110,000 households and 600 community anchor institutions across the state of Maine. To learn more, please visit www.mainefiberco.com.

ConnectME Authority
Phil Lindley, Executive Director ConnectME
RE: Pre-Application Letter – 7th
Round Grant
Project: Big Lake Township Fiber Project,
Big Lake Township, ME

In response to the Authority’s announcement of its Seventh Grant Round, Pioneer Wireless,
Inc., dba Pioneer Broadband, (“PBB”) is pleased to submit this Pre-Application letter for our “Big Lake Township” Fiber Project (“BLT”).
1. We are proposing to install a FTTH (Fiber To The Home) GPON Optical Network Terminal on West St in Big Lake Township, ME, 4 miles west of Princeton on US Route 1. This Optical Network Terminal will serve a majority of the BLT area that includes approximately 90
households. The exact service area will be the geographical area covered by the LEC’s pole
facilities from the Terminal site. Pioneer will cover West Street, Campground Rd and several
side roads.
2. Our knowledge of this area is extensive. We have communicated with other service
providers (FairPoint and TimeWarner) in the region and there is no evidence that they have
plans to expand into this locale.
3. We intend to utilize a fiber optic backhaul link via the Three Ring Binder project to serve a
remotely located GPON Terminal. The standard offer for broadband speed will be a Tier 5 level 10M/1M delivered to each customer using GPON FTTH technology. It is estimated the
installation of the backhaul fiber link and GPON Terminal can be completed within 18 months of funding depending on weather conditions when funding is made available and ILEC make-ready time. Customer installations can begin immediately once the GPON Terminal is operational and the FTTH is in place.
4. Current estimated project cost is $152,100. This amount is subject to change as project
details are worked out and will be finalized within the formal application for this project. PBB
is requesting funding for $76,050 representing 50% of the estimated project cost.
5. Matching TIF funds from the Washington County Government will fund $76,050, or 50% of
the estimated project cost. Appropriate documentation and evidence of funding availability will be provided in the formal application in a form acceptable to the Authority.

6. There are an estimated 40 customers served within the project site. PBB has obtained the surveys of possible customers who will commit construction is complete. There are no known businesses, however there are several professionals that desire reliable Internet service to be able to work from their home offices. We calculate that the Terminal can serve all 40 year round customers, thus providing 100% coverage within the area of the township that has poles.
There are portions of the town that are far off the grid, and for the most part those sites are
7. We are working with the County of Washington’s Unorganized Territory (UT) and Big Lake
Township in gathering support of this project. Evidence of partnerships and statements of
support are being acquired and will be included within the formal application.
8. PBB serves in 55 Maine towns from 80 locations, broadcasting over 5000 square miles, and serving over 5000 customers via fiberoptic cable, wireless, cable, DSL, dialup. PBB has a proven track record of successful expansion activities and deep commitment to serving rural Maine.
Pioneer has been the recipient of past grant funding from the ConnectME Authority as well.
We look forward to formal application availability and working with the Authority to bridge the
digital divide for the residents and businesses of this area.