The Bremen Broadband Committee announced recently that they are making quick progress and plan to seek more public support in the coming months.

The Bremen Select Board appointed a group of Bremen residents to the subcommittee in September with the goal of helping to bring reliable, affordable, “future-proof” high-speed internet access to every home in Bremen. The committee consists of Christa Thorpe, Ernest Carroll, Sam Hafford, Matthew Hanly and Brian Withers and has met four times since its official formation. Members have also attended external workshops and meetings to educate themselves about broadband issues and resources available to municipalities.

Several other residents have attended the committee meetings to learn about the plans and to share opinions on the subject. Additionally, the committee has welcomed representatives from Lincolnville Communications Inc. (LCI) and the Lincoln County Planning Commission.

The committee has received a draft proposal from LCI, part of the family of companies that includes Bremen’s incumbent provider, Tidewater Telecom, requesting the Town of Bremen’s partnership in applying for a ConnectME grant next spring. The ConnectME Authority makes grants for “last mile” infrastructure to provide high-speed internet access to customers in unserved areas of Maine. Bremen qualifies as an unserved community as the majority of residents currently do not have access to 25/3 Mbps internet speeds.

LCI told the committee that they plan to build out the remaining 23 miles of fiber needed to get to every mainland home in Bremen at a cost of approximately $400,000. The installation would occur during the summer of 2020, assuming LCI receives a significant grant, up to $100,000 from ConnectME. LCI has offered no specific timeframe for the buildout if the grant is not secured. In a previous discussion, LCI had asked the Town of Bremen to contribute $50,000 toward the project but that is no longer part of the current proposal. The committee has asked for a formal proposal from LCI to be submitted that outlines what the grant application partnership would entail.

The committee’s next meeting will take place Thursday, November 21, at 5:30 p.m. at the Bremen Library. They will discuss the LCI proposal, the development of a survey to get a better understanding of residents’ broadband needs, as well as continue the discussion for exploring other provider options.