BELFAST — Great Works Internet expects to offer fiber-optic internet service to western parts of the city, including the downtown area, by March 2023, President Kerem Durdag told The Republican Journal Feb. 17.

The company is starting its high-level design in April, including project activities like designing network elements and applying for pole permits, he said. This is the first of two phases in which the company intends to complete a full fiber-optic buildout in the entire city.

This phase of the project is estimated to cost between $4 million and $5 million, he said. Those funds will come from private financing partners and the company did not seek government funds for this phase of the project, Durdag said in a previous interview with The Journal.

“We believe in universal service, we believe that internet is the right of every human being, we believe it should be affordable and accessible,” he said. “Those are the anchor points that guide us on the decision-making process. So, our goal is to get everybody in Belfast the ability to get on high-speed fiber-optic broadband internet.” The B Corporation will use a government program to bring qualifying subscribers a subsidy of up to $30 on their monthly internet bill.

Durdag said the project is in line with Gov. Mills’ high-speed internet goals and brings the state closer to meeting her pledge. During her second State of the State Address Feb. 10, Mills pledged that every person in Maine who wants high-speed internet would have access to it by 2024.

Instead of waiting until phase one is complete, the company will start seeking funding for phase two of the project this year, which will bring service to the eastern half of the city and all other parts not covered by phase one, Durdag said. He hopes the phase two buildout will begin in 2023.

“It takes a while,” he said. “It’s an effort. We feel confident we can do certain things, so we want to get a head start on that, so we don’t want to just wait,” he said.

Maps for the phase one buildout will go on the company’s website in the coming weeks, Durdag said. This phase will bring high-speed internet to about 1,400 residents and about 600 businesses. The company will start marketing its services in Belfast in September and the first subscribers will have service by around March 2023.

Providing high-speed internet to communities across Maine is important to the company and part of its mission. “We are extremely excited to do this with the Belfast community, it is really important to us,” he said.

Related Headlines

filed under: