News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, April 5, 2018
Penobscot streams ahead with broadband internet study

by Monique Labbe

The People’s Forum of Penobscot is moving ahead with a study on how best to bring better broadband internet to town.

The town recently received a $10,000 grant from the Island Institute out of Rockland, and the selectmen approved $10,000 in matching funds that will be used to develop a plan and engineering study, according to Joel Katz, a member of the group involved in the study.

The Island Institute is an organization that works to sustain Maine’s rural and coastal community, according to its website.

The People’s Forum has identified three main goals regarding the impact of faster, better quality broadband: to provide improved educational activities, whether it be student homework or teacher preparation, homeschooling, etc.; to encourage rural businesses and entrepreneurship; and to increase rural housing prices.

The subject was discussed at length during the municipal portion of Penobscot’s town meeting last month. Resident Harold Shaw voiced his support of moving the town “into the 21st Century,” while school board member Fred Briehl noted that faster internet service could bring younger families to the area, which would support the enrollment at Penobscot Community School.

With the funds from both the Island Institute and the town in hand, the People’s Forum will move forward in its investigation into several alternatives. The plan, according to Katz, is to have the study done this year and have a finalized plan developed in 2019.