BRUNSWICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- After two years of planning, construction is starting on a big upgrade to Maine's high-speed internet system. It's called the Three Ring Binder, and supporters say it will help grow Maine's economy and improve everything from education to health care.
Leaders of the Maine Fiber Company, which is building the system, held a ribbon-cutting in Brunswick to celebrate construction of the first five miles of the binder system, and announce that work is about to start on several hundred more miles this fall.
The Three Ring Binder is planned to build 1,100 miles of fiber optic cable in three "rings" or loops covering much of the state.
The project was first conceived by researchers at the University of Maine, who then worked with the state and private business people to develop the plan. The project was awarded $25 million in federal stimulus funding (targeted at broadband expansion in rural areas), and Maine Fiber also raised $7.5 million in private investment.
The Binder is designed to bring high speed, high capacity broadband service to areas of the state where it is unavailable, unreliable or prohibitively expensive.
The system will not connect directly to the customers. Instead, this "middle mile" service will allow local internet service providers to connect to the new binder cable, which will give them access to high speed broadband at a low cost.
ISP's are required to pass those savings on to the customer.
Supporters of the plan say it will bring people and institutions in Maine closer to each other, and closer to the rest of the world. They predict it will be a major help to businesses, and will help grow more businesses and jobs in Maine.