Towns in Katahdin region eye high-speed future

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine (WABI) - A group of officials in the Katahdin region say they are getting closer to realizing their goal of providing high speed broadband to people in the area.

The plan is for the towns of Millinocket, East Millinocket and Medway to work together and form a public utility that would provide the service.

It's a process that began the planning stage back in 2015.

There was a meeting Tuesday to discuss what lies ahead.

The towns hope to secure in the ballpark of $3.5M in funding to build the infrastructure for the broadband.

Officials say there are still hurdles to clear, but that this is what's best for their combined futures.

"Broadband is essential infrastructure at this point," said Lucy Van Hook of Our Katahdin. "If we have high-speed fiber throughout these towns then we can get more telecommuters and more people working from home. The remote workers and businesses will have higher speed so they can function in the global market."

"In rural areas like the Millinocket region, the Katahdin area like this we need to go ahead and be a little bit creative about how we do this because we are competing with municipalities like Bangor, Portland, and Lewiston those places that have a greater population," said Millinocket Town Councilor Mike Madore. "There is a greater interest in them. Unless we go ahead and take advantage of it ourselves and take a little bit of control and of our own future and our own destiny with this."

All three municipalities still need to pass votes to approve this plan.

Madore said the best case would to have this up and running by 2019, 2020 at the latest.