SWANVILLE — News of faster internet options coming to Swanville was released in late March, but as of mid-August, some residents are wondering when work will commence.

A recent email to The Republican Journal questioned whether any work at all has been done on this long-awaited project. Callers to the Town Office inquiring about when work will begin or why it has not started have been told to call Spectrum directly.

When asked if there has been a setback on the broadband expansion project in Swanville, Lara Pritchard, senior director of communications for Charter-Spectrum, said the company is continuing to move through the pole permitting process, and once that is complete, teams will be allowed to start construction. She now expects the job to be completed by the end of the year — a few months later than originally projected.

The process of getting approval to string fiber on utility poles is costly and time-consuming, and it requires an individualized approach, Pritchard said. Spectrum does not own the poles and needs permits from each pole owner to proceed. Most are owned by power or phone companies.

Pritchard said a manual survey of every single pole, usually conducted by the utility company, is typically the next step to determine the health of each pole and whether there is proper clearance for a cable between the existing attachments. These surveys are labor-intensive, she said.

Rural areas such as Swanville can be additionally challenging, she said, because with homes farther apart, the sheer number of poles required to get from one point to another can increase exponentially, which in turn adds to the time and expense required to complete the work.

The project is entirely funded by Charter-Spectrum. In a December 2020 press release, the company announced an investment of more than $3 million to bring the fiber-optic network to more than 1,500 homes in Etna, Newburgh and Swanville.

The Swanville program initially will provide broadband service to all of the main roads in town, including Stevens Road, Swan Lake Avenue, Town House Road, Upper Oak Hill Road, Webster Road, Campground Road, Roberts Road, Oak Hill Road, Nickerson Road, Monroe Road, Harriman Road, Frost Hill Road, Frankfort Road, Curtis Road and North Searsport Road. Smaller roads or camp roads will not be included in the expansion program.

Swanville Select Board member Cindy Boguen said she did not have any new updates from Spectrum about the completion date, but said work had already begun. Previously, Boguen said the lengthy process to obtain the grant took over a year and involved much work.

The clerks at the Town Office have been asked to refer all inquiries about broadband expansion directly to Spectrum, she said, so callers can get the most up-to-date information.

Boguen said, “The town understands that this has been a difficult time for such a huge project and we need to be patient. It is a great sign to have them working in town.”

When The Journal asked Spectrum’s service compliance department for pending construction projects when the Swanville project might be finished, it had an anticipated date of Nov. 16 for the Swan Lake Grocery address. The department can be reached at 833-487-4772.

filed under: