WILTON — The Select Board held a special workshop on Tuesday, March 28, with Chris Lynch of Matrix Design Group to talk about the updates regarding a grant program Lynch and Town Manager Perry Ellsworth were collaborating on to get affordable high-speed internet for the town.

Lynch and Ellsworth’s collaboration was brought before the Select Board at the beginning of November, where the Select Board voted unanimously in favor of the two working together to apply for a grant through the Maine Connectivity Authority [MCA], which would provide funds to build infrastructure and provide reliable, high speed, and affordable broadband to communities.

According to Lynch at this previous meeting, Matrix Design Group would use the grant plus their own funds to install the infrastructure and provide the service to the town of Wilton as a municipality service.

Since that meeting, changes to the grant application have been made with MCA adjusting their perimeters of what they considered “unserved”. Originally, 530 homes in Wilton were considered unserved, meaning they only had access to DSL or satellite, but according to Lynch, MCA changed their definitions to include over 1,000 additional homes, tripling the number of homes that would have access to high-speed internet.

Lynch also mentioned a change in the potential pricing options. A price point of $95 was originally considered for monthly cost, but MCA requested a lower price point of below $60, with an additional affordable tier.

“Now, that’d be a 50-megabit tier and it would cost $30,” Lynch stated. “But the FCC, through the ACP program, would be giving a $30 voucher. So that basically means free internet for the people who qualify for that program.”


With these changes to the grant application, an amendment to the original agreement must also be adjusted. In the agreement, it states the town of Wilton will have the option to buy out this infrastructure, which will be built and maintained by Matrix, between five to twenty years after its completion.

“One thing going to be changed is the buyout price is because the number of homes and the number of road miles that are being built is basically tripling,” Lynch stated. “The second thing that needs to change is the pricing page, because right now on the pricing, it says $95 per sub, that has to be moved down to $60, with the $30, and everything else that goes along with that. And then the third thing that needs to change is the coverage map, because it’s going from just the 530 homes to the 1,530 homes.”

When Selectperson Mike Wells asked about the potential buy out cost, Lynch stated the cost is factored into the grant proposals.

Lynch also shared what he believes is good news in that, with the scope of the project changing, certain laws may affect the make ready cost of the project.

“Maine adopted what’s called the ‘municipal right of way law’, which says that utilities are not supposed to charge municipalities any make ready costs,” Lynch shared.

“Now, under general accounting principles, the proposal that we’ve put forth to Wilton counts as a municipal lease,” he continued. “So, it also counts as a municipal build. And the MCA has recognized it as such. So, we would actually qualify for the CMP rebates, or not being charged for the make ready cost.

“We would still be responsible for all the setup in their system and for all of the pole attachment applications, but that actually make ready cost is something they waive,” he said.

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