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New grant will provide broadband access to all Appleton, Hope residents

For some who may not even have any internet access at all, some of the best in broadband will soon be at their fingertips.
For the residents of Appleton and Hope, some who may not even have any internet access at all,...
For the residents of Appleton and Hope, some who may not even have any internet access at all, some of the best in broadband will soon be at their fingertips.(wabi)
Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 7:02 PM EDT
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APPLETON, Maine (WABI) - Imagine not having high speed internet.

Then think about not having it during a pandemic.

That’s a reality for countless Mainers in rural areas.

For the residents of Appleton and Hope, some who may not even have any internet access at all, some of the best in broadband will soon be at their fingertips.

”I moved here about eight years ago from Massachusetts where I had fiber optic, and I wanted to do remote working, and my speed to my house was like four megabits per second. And it was painful,” said Peter Beckett, Appleton resident/selectman.

To get the broadband access he was looking for was a bit of a challenge for Peter Beckett who discovered through Tidewater Telecom the fiber was near his home and could be connected, “If you can get through the other three or four people between the fiber and where you are. And everybody said, immediately say great, you know, and they all signed up, and they came along did it within a month,” said Beckett.

Now, as an Appleton selectman and chairman of the broadband committee, he’s ecstatic about the future of his town and the neighboring town of Hope. Both were just awarded a major statewide broadband infrastructure grant from ConnectME authority.

“It brings rural towns into the 21st century, and especially for the kids,” said Beckett.

“We can see how that’s going to change, change lives and allow people to stay here and to work from home, to have an economy that works here,” said Alan Hinsey,

The grant for $705,752, along with other federal funding and capital from LCI Fiber and Tidewater Telecom, will bring fiber optic broadband technology to the residents.

Alan Hinsey with LCI Fiber and Tidewater Telecom says it’s a project they’re ready to tackle.

“We’re putting in the rest of the funds about a one, over a million dollars that we’re investing as well. It’s huge, it’s huge, huge,” said Hinsey.

For Beckett - it’s like coming full circle from his first fiber project.

“I think that is a wonderful thing. Everybody needs Internet access nowadays. You know, we still see people down at the library with their laptops in their car or on their bikes, doing homework, and you think, boy, you know, here we are in 2021 and people are still having to go somewhere else to connect to the internet, so having this available and having the money to help those people get access to it, is really wonderful,” said Beckett.

They say this will have a major impact on rural residents being able to have access to things like telemedicine and educational opportunities.

Like a lot of industries, there’s also a big shortage of fiber optic technicians.

Anyone can reach out to Tidewater Telecom to learn more about training and employment opportunities.

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