Islesboro Municipal Broadband

The Islesboro Municipal Broadband (IMB) provides every home and business on the island with the option to have 1-gigabit state-of-the-art fiber-to-the-premise broadband Internet access. Subscribers, who choose, pay a $360 yearly subscriber fee. If you are not connected and want to be, contact the Town Office at (207) 734-2253 or email to IMB@remove-this.townofislesboro.com.

There are many benefits to being a subscriber. Primarily, you will enjoy affordable mainland-like Internet access that really supports our unique Islesboro way of life:

  • Nurtures connections with off-island family, friends, business associates
  • Supports on-island Internet-dependent small business opportunities
  • Connects islanders to off-island businesses and e-commerce
  • Provides modern educational opportunities for young and old
  • Enables in-home telemedicine
  • Connects islanders with news, entertainment and information about the outside world

Subscriber Support Telephone Support Center

Call 24hr X 7-days: 1-866-494-2020

If you have any issue with the quality of your existing IMB service, call the center. In most cases the support team can walk you through simple problem solving, see the status of your connection and if necessary, dispatch a technician on the next business day.

Contact the IMB Town Office or Oversight Committee

Call the the Town Office at (207) 734-2253 or email to IMB@remove-this.townofislesboro.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

Quick Index

  • Subscriber Help...
    • My service is not working properly - What do I do?
    • What happens after a big storm?
    • What happens if the power fails?
    • What do I need to know about these batteries?
    • Shutting down for the winter?
    • What about my online privacy?
    • What Happens if I Sell My Property?
    • Can I redistribute the IMB connection?
    • Can I have a public Wi-Fi?
    • Can my IMB Internet be deactivated?
    • If I run www.gwi.speedtest.net what Speed will I see?
  • Become a Subscriber...
    • How do I become a subscriber?
    • Is There a Phone Plan?
    • Can I Keep Being a Consolidated Telephone (or other services) Customer?
    • What is involved with an installation?
    • Are there other fees?
    • Can I save money by cutting the satellite TV cord?
    • What about the local on the air CBS, NBC, ABC?
    • What about Maine PBS?
    • Who owns the equipment?
    • What does the subscriber premise ONT electronics box provide?
  • Subscriber Documents
  • Islesboro Municipal Broadband Background Information...
    • What is the Islesboro Municipal Broadband?
    • How is the IMB financed?
    • Tell me the history of the IMB?
    • Tell me about the design and implementation of the IMB?
    • What about the School and the Library?
    • How long will this system last?

 

 

 

What is the Islesboro Municipal Broadband?

Brief Overview

Following three years of proposal evolution, the 2016 Annual Town Meeting voters approved a $3.8M bond to fund construction of a dark fiber-to-the-premise infrastructure capable of delivering 1-gigabit Internet access to every home or business on Islesboro as well as the neighboring Minot, Seal and 700 Acre Islands. The IMB system is specified to be technically viable for several island generations.

Three contractors bid on, won and performed the work: Waveguide of Nashua, NH; GWI of Biddeford, ME; J. W. Sewall of Old Town ME. This construction project was essentially complete by mid-2818 with more than 600 premises connected.

The Town contracts with an Internet Service Provider (ISP), GWI of Biddeford, ME to light the network, connect subscribers to the Internet, provide subscriber service and support, and perform all maintenance and upgrades to the town-owned infrastructure. GWI also offers an independent, optional phone plan utilizing the fiber connection. The Town maintains the subscriber list and interacts with the stakeholders. It bills each subscriber a yearly fee of $360 as well as other service fees. The Town, acting as the billing agent, substantially reduces the monthly GWI management fees. GWI invoices the Town for subscriber service dispatches, connectivity, oversight management, repairs and upgrades.

GWI provides a 24 hour 7-day-a-week telephone support center (1-866-494-2020) and contracts with an On-Island-Technician for subscriber service and repairs. When necessary, GWI and the technician arrange for additional help to be brought in.

Following a Town Meeting vote to approve an enabling IMB Ordinance, the Select Board appointed a five-person IMB Oversight Committee to meet quarterly in order to review the operational and financial aspects of the service, propose updates to the Town’s IMB policies and to support the Town Manager in operating the network.The FY19 Committee is: R. Heinen, V. Conover, L. Graf, H. Conklin, J. Rex-Waller with P. Seymour representing the Select Board.

The IMB operating principles can be summarized:

  • Offer a single 1-gigabit service tier for all at one affordable price to every home of business propert
  • Provide an on-island service technician for common repair needs
  • Deliver the service in a financially viable way for subscribers and taxpayers - balance the affordability of the fees with the underlying costs to provide the servicee
  • Maintain the IMB infrastructure in good working order for generations
  • Measure and improve subscriber satisfaction
  • Oversee GWI’s performance to their contract terms

How is the IMB financed?

The construction of the IMB dark-fiber infrastructure was financed by a 20yr $3.8M bond approved by voters and sold in 2016. These funds combined with grants and donations funded the construction project. The repayment of this bond is now a Town debt obligation.

Each active subscriber pays a yearly subscriber fee that covers the cost of their service, support and connectivity. This fee is set by the Select Board to be both affordable and fiscally responsible re the underlying costs. The Town voters then approve an annual budget to maintain, manage and insure the infrastructure so that it remains in good working order. The total IMB FY19 tax burden - the bond payment and budget to maintain the network - is 1.4 mil or $1.40 per $1,000 in valuation.

What About the School and Library?

Currently the School and Library have reasonable broadband service provided by a State legislative mandate. The proposed Town system does not impact what they are currently using. However, we are designing the system to support significant school and library bandwidth needs.

What Does This Do for Cell Phone Service on The Island?

The IMB is an Internet capability and does not enhance or degrade the wireless cellular voice and data services available on Islesboro.

Tell me about the design and implementation of the IMB?

The IMB network is a passive fiber-to-the-premise design. This design is in used in many US municipalities and across the world. It has proven to be reliable. Our design is passive in that there are no powered electronic components except in the central electronics building and the subscriber’s premise.

This means that each subscriber essentially has a direct fiber optic strand from his or her premise to the central electronics building adjacent to the town Hall. From there the signals connects to the Internet via a high-speed high-capacity link running under the bay.

There are also three wireless radio links that service subscribers on 700 Acre, Minot and Seal islands.

How Long Will This System Last?

We have been told by Corning, who supplied the fiber ,to anticipate that the physical fiber installation will last for 40 years. In addition, technically the fiber infrastructure can deliver much higher speeds and capacity than 1-gigabit service if/when needed. Getting beyond 1-gigabit will entail an upgrade to the central electronics and the subscriber’s ONTs. If this were needed, the capital expense would be put to the Town for a vote. We don’t anticipate such need in the foreseeable future but it is good to know it is possible.

Tell me the history of the IMB Project?

The Islesboro Select Board kicked off this project in 2014 to analyze the island’s Internet access issues and recommend solutions. The core group of R. Heinen, P. Clason, V. Ziegler and A. Gillies began the effort with help from J. Anderson, our Town manager.

  • Study to identify our problem and potential solution.  Late 2014 into 2015
    • The resulting census and report provided us with the information necessary to begin serious dialog with Internet providers interested in helping solve our access problems.  The conclusion was that we had unserved and underserved residents. We had spotty service and support and that we lagged the nearby mainland in terms of choices, price and no foreseeable scenario to have access to the FCC definition of minimum broadband service – 25mbps.
    • This phase was funded by generous private donations and a contribution from the Town funds.
  • Ask for proposals – early 2015
    • We requested for proposals from a variety of incumbent Internet service providers to provide proposals for us that would meet these goals:
      • 100% Coverage for island residents and businesses at an affordable, competitive price
      • Access speed & service quality as good as nearby mainland now and for generations
      • Timely Service and Support
    • We selected a proposal from GWI for the town to build the network infrastructure that they would operate under contract to the town.
    • This phase was funded by generous private donations and a contribution from the Town funds.
  • Design the system and bid out the construction - Mid-2015 to Early 2016
    • On May 30th, 2015 voters approved spending $206,830 to fund the up-front design work needed to get a firm construction bid for the Committee's proposal to build and operate a 1gpbs fiber Internet for all residents and business on the island. This one-time expense paid for the engineering, design, consulting, legal and pole-attachment agreements needed to put the network construction out to bid. This work yielded firm bid for construction, a GWI operating contract and business plan, subscriber data, pricing, etc. This all provided info to voters that was needed to make the final project a formal go/no-go decision.
  • The Go NoGo Vote - May 2016
    • At the Annual Town Meeting, the voters approved a $3.8M bond to fund the construction of the IMB. The bond was sold in October 2016 and the funds became available to begin.
  • Construction & Sign Up - 2016 through mid 2018
    • Construction began in the fall of 2016 with CMP and Fairpoint (Consolidated) preparing their poles for the attachment of the IMB fiber infrastructure.
    • Three contractors worked on the construction phase:
      • Waveguide (Nashua NH) constructed the outside plant/fiber and central office building. They also performed all the subscriber installations.
      • GWI (Biddeford, ME) installed and tested the central office electronics and verified the integrity of the network.
      •   Sewall (Old Town ME) worked as the Town’s project manager
  •    Light Up - January through July 2018
    • Every subscriber who signed up had a service installed at their home or business
    • 600+ initial installations were completed.

Becomming a Subscriber

How do I become a subscriber?

Property owners who desire to be connected should call the Town Office at (207) 734-2253. They will walk you through the process. They will gather your contact information and ask that the property owner sign several documents allowing the Town to install and maintain the IMB connection on their property. Your request is then put in a service work queue so that the On-Island Technician can visit the property to determine the scope of work and materials needed. The Technician will also advise you of what readiness work you might need to accomplish prior to the installation. Such readiness work is your responsibility. With the estimate complete, the Town office will contact you to provide the prorated yearly subscriber fee and any installation fee that is due. Once you have paid these fees, the installation is scheduled. If for some reason the installation can’t be completed, the entire amount is refunded.

Your readiness work might include having an appropriate place for the equipment to be placed within the house or business. In situations where the property’s utility service is buried, it is your responsibility to provide an open communications conduit with a pull string from the nearest utility service pole to the premise building.

What is involved with an installation?

When the technician comes to your home or business to do the installation these basic steps will occur:

  • Run a service drop cable from the property's nearest utility pole line to the exterior of your premise typically near to where your other utilities are attached. This run can be aerial or buried. If buried, it is your responsibility to provide an open unobstructed communications conduit with a pull string for the technician to use. This may be an existing or new conduit. The technician, when doing your installation estimate, can provide the specs for such a conduit run. Many of the island contractors do this type of conduit work – please use them
  • Install an exterior clamshell connection box
  • Run an interior service cable from the clamshell to the location where your IMB Optical network Terminal (ONT) will be installed
  • Securely mount the ONT and its battery backup power supply on an interior wall or other secure space. You must provide a nearby working 110v receptacle.
  • Test your connection to assure it is good working order.

What Does the ONT electronics box provide?

The standard IMB Optical Network Terminal or ONT converts the optical signals on the IMB fiber to a local, password protected Wi-Fi network, wired Ethernet and phone connections. There is an optional ONT type for subscribers with existing Ethernet wiring. It provides just Ethernet and phone connections. Which ONT is right for you can be discussed with the technician during the estimate visit.

Is There a Phone Plan?

GWI provides an independent, optional local-long-distance phone service. You will be able to keep your 734-phone number and use your existing phone equipment. Call them at: (207) GWI-2000.

Who owns the equipment?

The Town owns all of the IMB equipment and fiber up to and including the ONT on your premise. It is your responsibility to assure that this equipment is not damaged. Any gear that is wired to or connected with the ONT electronics box is your responsibility. The Town and GWI do not provide support for your gear – contact the contractor of your choice.

Can I Keep Being a Consolidated Telephone (or other services) Customer?

Yes, you have complete control of the services you use. You can utilize your existing service providers. Or you can try all new service providers. Or use any combination of old and new.

Can I Save Money by Cutting the Satellite TV Cord?

One of the substantial financial benefits to using the IMB broadband Internet is to utilize the high speed to stream most all the TV channels movies and sports that you are used to seeing via your satellite TV system. Because streaming services are offered in an a la carte pricing model, this may save you significant money over satellite TV costs because you will pay for just the channels you want.

Here is a list of resources to help you take advantage of streaming services.

  • How to Watch All the TV You Want Without Paying a Cable Bill
  • Smart TVs – Most all modern TVs and DVD players are considered “Smart” and can directly connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi to provide you with significant online content.
  • Set Top Streaming Boxes enable any TV to Stream Internet Content - For example...
    •  Roku Box - www.Roku.com - The Switzerland of Set Top Boxes providing countless content apps and services. 
    • Apple TV - www.Apple.com - The Apple universe ideal Set Top Box
    • Amazon Fire TV – www.amazon.com - The Amazon Set Top Box - much like Roku
  • Content Providers. Many content providers and channel bundlers offer a cable-like set of channels - hundreds of paid and free channels, movies, games, informational channels and entertainment. Very much like Cable or Satellite. These services require a one-time or monthly fee. This list changes often.

What about the local Bangor on the air CBS, NBC, ABC?

All of the modern streaming bundle services (Sling, youtubeTV, etc.) offer local channels, some block them in our area. Check each often to see what is available as the list constantly changes. Of course, you can put up an over-the-air antenna and receive these channels.  

What about the Maine PBS?

Maine Public Broadcasting piggy backs on the commonly available PBS app for set top boxes. They do however enable most of the content via a log in that requires a donation. Of course, you can put up an over-the-air antenna and receive the PBS channels.

 

Are there other fees?

There are several other fees that you need to be aware of:

  • Installation Fee – estimated based on a property visit
  • Reactivation Fees - $100 for reconnection within 4 months and $300 for reconnection after 4 months.
  • Late Fees - $25/mo. for late payments. Involuntary disconnection occurs after 2 months of non payment
  • Service Fees – for active subscribers the town maintains a working connection to your home or business free of service charges. If you need support or service off hours or on weekends then there will be a labor charge for dispatching the technician. The telephone support center and technicians will have discretion to help with simple problems you have using the working ONT. However, if your issue is extensive then they may advise you that you are responsible for labor and materials. At that point you can choose to pay or not. In addition, the Town must charge you for damage to the IMB equipment.
  • Additional Services – as needs develop the town can offer other services using the fiber broadband network. These will be priced and marketed separately.

Subscriber - Things to Know

My service is not working properly - What do I do?

If you have any issue with the quality of your active IMB Internet service, call the 24hr X 7-days-a-week service center at 1-866-494-2020. In most cases the support team can walk you through simple problem solving, provide user help and see the status of your connection. If that does not resolve the issue, they will escalate your problem to a technical expert and, when necessary, dispatch & schedule a technician on the next business day.

Business hours M-F service dispatches to restore your IMB service to good working order are free of charge. You or a representative must be there when the visit is scheduled – our technicians do not enter the inside of a home or business without the owner or an adult representative present. In the event of an emergency or an issue with the exterior equipment or an adjacent neighbor’s property, then the documents signed by the owner prior to installation provide permission for the Technician to do exterior repairs without prior notice or scheduling.

There are several situations where the technician visit might involve a charge. For example, if the tech comes to your house and discovers that the IMB is just fine and that you have your tablet in airplane mode – you may need to pay for such service calls. If there is damage to the Town-owned equipment, you may have to pay. Or, if you demand a service call outside of M-F business hours, you will have to pay for a portion of service visit cost.

In any situation where you might have to pay for the service call, you will be given a written estimate for the time and materials. You must sign the estimate acknowledging that you may be charged for the service visit.

What Happens After A Big Storm?

As we know there are times when the island pole lines come down. Our experience is that the fiber cable like telephone cable tends to be more resilient to breakage than the power lines. Small breaks in the line are expected and can be repaired by the technicians. Significant damage may require on-call off-island repair crews. The yearly operating budget provides for a such events. The Town also carries disaster recovery insurance to cover significant storm damage requiring off-island contractors to repair. 

Unlike a single subscriber outage, a multiple subscriber outage requires an immediate response. The entire IMB connectivity status is monitored by GWI and in the event they see a multi-subscriber fault, say due to inclement weather (hurricane or ice storm damage), traffic accident, central electronics issues they will dispatch the service technicians immediately to diagnose and hopefully repair the situation. Our trained on-island technicians can fix most all the problems except a major fiber separation. They can determine whether off-island help is needed to complete service restorations.

Can I redistribute the IMB connection?

Owners can redistribute the IMB connection (wired or wirelessly) to their adjacent, similarly owned, properties. It is the owner’s responsibility to provide all the gear and technical support to make this redistribution possible.

 

What Happens if The Power Fails?

An active IMB connection requires power at two island locations: your home or business and the IMB central electronics at the Town offices.

Each subscriber’s electronics installation package includes a CyberPower battery backup gadget that can maintain the connection for a few hours.  Note that this battery backup does not power any gear you might have connected such as TV, computer, wireless-phone, game box, etc. Subscribers can make their own choice about a standby generator, etc.

The IMB central electronics building has both a large battery and a standby generator that can power the system core for many days.

What do I need to know about these batteries?

Your IMB home electronics include a 12V battery CyberPower device to provide several hours of power in the event of a CMP power failure. These batteries are easily serviced and changed by the homeowner. If handling the battery is not your thing, ask a friend or contractor to do it for you. You can call our telephone support center at 1-866-494-2020 and ask for a technician to service the battery, but you will be charged for that service visit.

The batteries we use are readily available as they are also used in emergency exit lights. Outlets like Walmart or Amazon - cost about $20 – carry them. For example, search Amazon for 12v batteries. You will see - ExpertPower 12V 7 Amp EXP1270 Rechargeable Lead Acid Battery for $19.99.

We are working to have spare charged batteries for exchange during business hours at the Town Office in the event that your battery runs out of juice during an extended outage. There will be a $25 fee if you are not exchanging.

Shutting Down for the Winter?

IMB subscribers who shut down their power or heat for the winter should follow a few steps to assure their IMB electronics weather the winter in good working order. First, remove the power backup battery and store it somewhere that will not freeze. Second, call the telephone support center at 1-866-494-2020 to advise them of your location and that you are shutting your power off so that they don’t assume there is trouble at your home when the device is powered down. Your account and connection will still be considered active, but idle.

Can my IMB Internet be deactivated?

Yes, there are several reasons that the Town or GWI may initiate a deactivation procedure: failure to pay your fees; incorrect use of the service according to the Acceptable Use Policy. Prior to a formal deactivation you will be given a notice and time to correct the situation. There is a $25/month late payment fee. After 4 months of deactivation there will be a reactivation fee. Activations and deactivations are handled at the Town Office.

What About My Privacy On-Line?

On-line privacy is a major concern for all Internet users. The IMB policy as implemented by GWI is that we do not track usage or infringe on the privacy of our subscribers. Further, the IMB and GWI is committed to network neutrality and does not bias one content provider over another.

That said, the IMB and GWI, our operating partner, must adhere to and comply with any local, state and federal laws on such issues. Those laws currently compel, in rare situations, that the IMB or GWI provide data to law-enforcement and other government agencies.

Our Subscriber Agreement includes a complete privacy policy that specifies open access to the entire Internet as well as protections for a subscriber’s online activity.

What Happens if I Sell My Property?

The yearly subscriber fee is non-refundable, but it is transferable to a new owner. Contact the Town Office for details. New owners must go to the Town Office to sign the enabling paperwork.

I Rent My Property?

The property owner needs to initiate the order to get the service installed, but after that the Town is indifferent to who actually pays the subscriber fee – owner or renter.

Can I have a public Wi-Fi?

Open unprotected Wi-Fi networks are havens or network security scoundrels. The Town highly recommends that all IMB connected Wi-Fi networks be protected with a password and have encryption enabled. With this caveat, owners are free to set up a Wi-Fi system that is available to the public and then tell their patrons what the password is, etc. Note, that the owner is ultimately responsible for any user’s misuse of the IMB system.

If I run www.gwi.speedtest.net what Speed will I see?

1-gigabit or 1000MBPS is substantially faster and higher capacity than any Internet access you have likely ever experienced before. 1-gigabit means you can stream multiple TV HD or the latest 4K video streams or your favorite shows, one kid can watch the latest Batman while the others are watching My Little Pony or that online education course, download that software update in a second rather than hours, Skype with your relatives, access telemedicine services, stream and really never have to wait for browser response. You will likely find that your computer or tablet becomes the slow link in the Internet access chain.

1-gigibit is 40 times faster than the current Federal Communications Commission minimum definition of the term Broadband (25Mbps). It is 200-300 times faster than phone company DSL and 20-40X the speed of the high-speed high-cost service from a cable supplier. It is at least 20 times faster than the best cellular data connections in large cities.

The installation technician will perform a speed test on your equipment to assure that it working properly. The maximum usable data throughput speed on a 1-gigabit connection is approximately 940MBPS. Seeing these speeds requires equipment and cabling capable of utilizing these speeds. Most off-the-shelf home Wi-Fi hot spots and consumer gear is designed to operate at less than about 100Mbps as these devices do not require high speed to function well. However, with the IMB you can have many of these streams running concurrently = multiple computers, tablets, multiple TVs and other A/V gear. And, of course if you have the proper wiring and gear you will see speeds up to about 940MPBS. 

Subscriber Documents

What documents should a subscriber read and understand?

All these documents are available online…

  • Subscriber Agreement - this is a contract between you and the Town, and sets forth the terms and conditions that govern your access to the IMB high-speed fiber optic broadband network owned by the Town. The terms of the Agreement may be modified from time to time, and the current version of the Agreement will always be available online. By paying your subscriber fee and using the IMB service, you automatically agree to abide by the terms and conditions in the Agreement, which include:
    • Paying the annual subscriber fee and any applicable installation fees, reconnection fees, and repair charges. If the annual subscriber fee is not paid by June 30 each year, your service will be disconnected
    • Understanding that the Town provides, maintains and owns all the fiber cables and “optical network terminal” or “ONT” that serve your property.
    • Understanding that you are responsible for the labor and materials to repair damage to the IMB equipment caused by subscriber misuse or negligence.
    • Understanding that you are responsible for providing and maintaining your own equipment that is needed to access the Internet, including, but not limited to, inside wiring and outlets, powered electrical outlets, modems, computers, tablets and other personal electronic devices. The Town will not be responsible for your equipment.
    • Understanding that you are responsible to prevent the distribution of the service beyond your premise and immediately adjacent premises under similar ownership by limiting access to Wi-Fi through password protection, encryption, or other similar means.
    • Allowing the Town or its contractors to enter your premises to install, maintain, inspect, repair, or the Town’s equipment for as long as you are a subscriber of the IMB Internet service or remove it if you stop being a subscriber.
    • Using the IMB Internet service in accordance with the IMB Acceptable Use Policy, which is available online at the Town’s website.
  • Acceptable Use Policy – this document sets the boundaries and limitations of acceptable use and good neighbor behavior that applies to all subscribers and all users. Failure to abide by the policy could result in the termination of your service.
  • Service Level Agreement – this document explains what the IMB Internet access is and what you can expect for services and support.Owner’s Rider – this document is signed by the property owner(s). It explains the responsibilities of the owner and the Town in providing IMB service. In particular it provides permission for the IMB technicians to go on the owner’s property to repair or maintain the IMB equipment. Please not however, that the technicians never enter the interior of a premise without prior notice and the presence of the owner or an adult representative.
  • Owner's Rider – In order to get an installation, the current property owner must sign an Owner's Rider. This document covers the owner's responsibilities and provides permission to access the owner's property for installation, maintenance and repairs. For interior work, the Town policy is that the technicians will only enter a property after scheduling the visit and only if the owner or an adult representative is present - our technicians do not enter unoccupied structures. For exterior work, the policy is for the technician to attempt to schedule the visit but in some cases, like an emergency, the technician is authorized to do exterior work as needed. In certain circumstances, the Town requires an owner to sign an easement prior to installation. This document is needed when the IMB service lines cross the owner’s property in order to serve other adjacent properties. Here again, the document’s main purpose is to memorialize that the owner is giving the Town permission to come onto the property in order to install, maintain and repair the IMB equipment. If an easement is necessary, the Town underwrites the cost of filing the easement with the County Deeds people.
  • Fee Schedule – The Select Board sets out the fees and related fee policies for the IMB.What Happens If My Electrical Power Fails?