In late 2012 Maine's 3-Ring Binder initiative completed the 1,100-mile "middle mile" fiber optic network designed to bring high-speed broadband access to remote areas of the state.
The lack of a broadband network left the rural northern communities without service to attract employers and left residents in the slow lane of the information superhighway.
"We wanted to create the infrastructure in the state so that we were no longer a cul-de-sac but a highway that links the U.S. to Europe," says Jeff Letourneau, executive director of Networkmaine, a unit of the University of Maine that supports state institutions with Internet support and development.
"If you're at the end of the road people tend not to notice you," Letourneau says. "But now with the 3-Ring Binder connection, Maine is a link from New York to Canada and off to Europe."
Funded by $25.4 million in federal stimulus money and private investment of $7.5 million from Maine Fiber Co. (MFC), which owns and operates the fiber facilities, the 3-Ring Binder project makes fiber available for lease in some of Maine's most rural areas. Several commercial carriers, retail ISPs and public-sector customers are utilizing fiber on the network, which consists of three loops, or rings, that cover a large portion of the state.
GWI, the Biddeford-based Internet service provider, is the lead sponsor of the 3-Ring Binder, which makes broadband Internet access more readily available to approximately 110,000 households in Maine.
“With this kind of speed available to test and develop the next generation of technology applications, the next Google or Facebook could be born right here in Maine,” says GWI CEO Fletcher Kittredge.