Installation of Maine’s first gigabit Internet network commercially available to business and residential customers has begun in the Old Town and Orono communities surrounding the University of Maine.
The new ultra-high-speed Gigabit Main Street Internet Network, built by GWI Inc., based in Biddeford, Maine, is expected to drive innovation and create economic opportunity by providing an Internet network as fast as any in the world. It also will make UMaine one of the fastest-moving and leading innovators of the nationwide Gig.U initiative.
Gig.U — the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project — is a group of 37 leading research universities across the United States seeking to accelerate the deployment of ultra-high-speed networks to leading U.S. universities and their surrounding communities. The goal is to improve high-speed Internet networks to drive economic growth and stimulate a new generation of innovations addressing critical needs, such as healthcare and education.
“The University of Maine is committed to serving as a catalyst for technological, economic and job development in the state of Maine,” says UMaine President Paul Ferguson. “This new Gigabit Main Street network is a perfect example of how we intend to bring people from the public and private sectors and the university community together to drive innovation and create economic opportunity.”
Blair Levin, executive director of Gig.U, says UMaine was one of the first institutions to sign up to participate in Gig.U and is now one of the first to move forward, in partnership with GWI, to make the idea of Gig.U a reality in Old Town and Orono.
“This GWI Gigabit Main Street deployment will not just benefit the University of Maine community; it will provide Orono, Old Town, and the state of Maine with the strategic bandwidth advantage necessary to lead in the next generation of broadband innovation,” Levin said.
GWI’s Orono-Old Town Gigabit Main Street Network will be built in two phases, based on customer demand and network use. Phase I will quickly build out and reach downtown districts and business-heavy parts of Old Town and Orono. Phase II will build out further, based on demand and population density.
The Gigabit Main Street network will provide 125 times faster download speeds and 1,000 times faster upload speed than current offerings.
The network will be built on an open-access model, meaning that GWI will install optical fiber to the business and home, and make that network infrastructure available to any service provider that wants to offer service to customers within the network. The network will also be mixed-use, meaning that it will serve both business and residential customers.
“We were proud to partner with the university to bring the Three Ring Binder network to Maine, which runs from Kittery to Fort Kent and is now owned and run by Maine Fiber Company. We hope our success here in Old Town and Orono will lead to the development of other networks and increased economic opportunity in university and rural communities across our state,” says GWI Inc. CEO Fletcher Kittredge.
The difference in performance to both residential and business customers on the Gigabit Main Street network powered by GWI will be dramatic, comparable to the move from dial-up to current broadband speeds — at roughly the same price as their current service. Dial-up modems delivered speeds of 30k to 56k. Current broadband speeds are approximately 8,000k.