News | April 22, 2014

Federal Grant For MFC 3 Ring Binder Fiber Optic Network Closed Out: Steady Growth In Dark Fiber Leasing As Final Audit Completed

Maine Fiber Company (MFC), owner/operator of Maine's "Three Ring Binder" fiber optic network, announced recently that the final independent audit of its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) project has been completed by the firm of BerryDunn. As required, the audit has been forwarded to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), effectively closing out the grant. Originally awarded in 2009, the infrastructure grant provided $25M to partially fund construction of the 1,100-mile fiber optic network, which runs throughout the state from Fort Kent to South Berwick. MFC's investors provided $7M in matching funds in order to secure the grant and bring this important "middle-mile" network to Maine.

"This is another important milestone for Maine Fiber Company, and we are pleased that the final audit has been completed," said Maine Fiber Company's CEO, Dwight Allison. "Our careful stewardship of the grant dollars and attention to detail in accounting made this final phase of grant administration go smoothly."

In addition to constructing the 1,100 route-mile "Three Ring Binder" network designed by the original grant authors, MFC added dark fiber routes that interconnect Maine with Boston and Canada as part of an effort to ensure sustainability. "We knew local demand for leasing middle-mile dark fiber would grow organically over time, but we also wanted to be sure Maine's newest fiber optic network was interconnected with international fiber networks, opening up better global connectivity options for Maine," said Jeff McCarthy, Vice President of Business Development for the Company. "That has worked as intended, and several international carriers now have a point of presence in Maine."

One of the ISP's using the Maine Fiber network is Pioneer Broadband, based in Houlton. PR Director Don Flewelling notes that it has taken "our customers from having nothing to having it all. The fact that it was completed under budget and on time shows what can happen when competing businesses work together."

The network, which primarily leases middle-mile dark fiber, is operated on an open-access, non-discriminatory basis. Company leaders noted that every request to lease MFC fiber to date had been granted, and that there are already (24) customer agreements for leasing fiber on the network.

Susan Corbett, CEO of Axiom Technologies, a Washington County ISP, applauds Maine Fiber for helping "fulfill our mission to bring broadband where there is none. It was an amazing collaboration with providers and leaders, both public and private, throughout the state. The project was done on time and was successful."

At a recent Users Group meeting, company representatives described a number of operational enhancements and construction models designed to make network growth and interconnection easier for ISP and carrier customers. "Now we need broad support for additional 'last-mile' fiber solutions to fully realize the benefits of end-to-end fiber optic connectivity and broadband delivery in Maine," said McCarthy.

SOURCE: Maine Fiber Company, LLC