A coalition of citizens, business owners, and city officials has formed in Caribou to look at improving internet connectivity throughout the community. This volunteer group, named the Caribou Broadband Coalition, is hoping to see internet speeds of at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps) available at every home and business in Caribou. Gigabit internet speeds would also be likely.
Many people in Caribou currently have internet speeds of about 10 Mbps. At that speed it would take approximately 8.5 minutes to download a 45-minute television show in HD. If the internet speed was 100 Mbps it would take 50 seconds to download.
“We have seen our economy here in Caribou change over the decades,” said City Manager Austin Bleess. “By making faster internet more affordable here in Caribou jobs can be created anyplace in the world, but the workers can be located in Caribou.”
Citing conversations between the city and technology companies that have occurred over the past year, Bleess said that high speed internet is a must have for these companies. When companies have offices all around the world, high speed internet breaks down the barriers and connects Caribou to the world. Bleess stated 5 gigabyte files are not an uncommon size for technology companies. Transferring that file currently in Caribou would take approximately 30 minutes. With a 100 Mbps connection it would take 4.5 minutes, and with a gigabit connection it could be transferred in less than 30 seconds.
Residents of Caribou will start to see the first step of this project shortly. Surveys are being sent out to all residents in Caribou to gauge their interest in having faster and more affordable internet city wide. “By understanding what the citizens think about their current internet service we can see where the gaps are, and better understand what is needed to improve internet speeds here in Caribou,” said Mike Quinlan a member of the Caribou Broadband Coalition. This survey will remain open for the month of July.
As part of their work, the coalition has identified the following questions it first hopes to answer:
- Can we create a new revenue source to help our city operate?
- Can we provide a better more reliable product at lower price point?
- Can all required services of this new entity be sourced in Caribou
The coalition has created a roadmap that they are following to help answer these questions, gauge interest of residents, and look at all options that are possible to assist in achieving their mission.
To make this project as transparent as possible, citizens are encouraged to supply an email address in the survey to stay up-to-date. The coalition will also share information on the status of the project online and through various media outlets.
If you’d like to take the survey now, or to learn more information please go to: http://www.cariboumaine.org/broadband