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I moderated a July 21 public informational hearing regarding the town’s July 28 special town meeting/election to (1) join other southwestern Waldo County towns in forming a “broadband utility district;” and (2) whether to have our town treasurer position appointed, not elected. Eight residents attended this informational session. By the time this column runs in The Republican Journal’s print edition Thursday, the 7/28 special town meeting/election will have already happened. Tune in next week to read my thoughts on how it went.

Despite low attendance, the attendees had spirited discussion on the merits of these Waldo County towns forming a nonprofit utility district to steward and oversee fiber internet connection to Freedom. The goal is to get “broadband” — internet that is fast enough to accomplish daily needs of internet users — to every home and business in the town. “Fast enough” internet is defined by the state of Maine as an upload and download speed of 100 mbps each. For comparison, upload speed at my house is usually around 1 mbps, and download speed is between 10 and 12 mbps. We heard testimony at the informational meeting of normal speed quite lower than that.

So if my download speed is anywhere near a representative example of Freedom’s average download speed, it’s speed is less than a tenth of what the state considers the “minimum” speed required this day in age. We are far behind the times, but thanks to the Waldo County Broadband Coalition and this interlocal agreement (if it passes on July 28), we can reasonably hope to have a 100 x 100 mbps minimal internet speed within the next few years. Or maybe a private provider will beat them to it?

Regardless, these are exciting times trying to spur this “infrastructure” development in our neck of the woods.