Gig.U Network Will Bring Gigabit Internet Speeds to UMaine, Orono, Old Town

Installation of Maine’s first gigabit Internet network commercially available to business and residential customers has begun in the Old Town and Orono communities surrounding the University of Maine.

The new ultra-high-speed Gigabit Main Street Internet Network, built by GWI Inc., based in Biddeford, Maine, is expected to drive innovation and create economic opportunity by providing an Internet network as fast as any in the world and will be one of the fastest business-residential networks in the United States. It also will make UMaine one of the fastest-moving and leading innovators of the nationwide Gig.U initiative.

UMaine, GWI and Gig.U officials announced the project Wednesday at UMaine.

Gig.U — The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project – is a broad-based group of 37 leading research universities across the United States seeking to accelerate the deployment of ultra-high-speed networks to leading U.S. universities and their surrounding communities. The goal is to improve high-speed Internet networks to drive economic growth and stimulate a new generation of innovations addressing critical needs, such as health care and education.

“The University of Maine is committed to serving as a catalyst for technological, economic and job development in the state of Maine,” said UMaine President Paul Ferguson. “This new Gigabit Main Street network is a perfect example of how we intend to bring people from the public and private sector and the university community together to drive innovation and create economic opportunity.”

Blair Levin, executive director of the national Gig.U initiative, noted at the announcement Wednesday that the University of Maine was one of the first institutions to sign-up to participate in Gig.U and is now one of the first to move forward, in partnership with GWI, to make the idea of Gig.U a reality in Old Town and Orono, Maine.

“This GWI Gigabit Main Street deployment will not just benefit the University of Maine community; it will provide Orono, Old Town, and the state of Maine with the strategic bandwidth advantage necessary to lead in the next generation of broadband innovation,” Levin said.

GWI’s Orono-Old Town Gigabit Main Street Network will be built in two phases, based on customer demand and network use. Phase I will quickly build out and reach downtown districts and business-heavy parts of both Old Town and Orono. Phase II will build out further, based on demand and population density.

The Gigabit Main Street network will provide 125 times faster download speeds and 1,000 times faster upload speed than current offerings. The network will be built on an open-access model, meaning that GWI will install optical fiber to the business and home and make that network infrastructure available to any service provider who wants to offer service to customers within the network. The network will also be mixed-use, meaning that it will serve both business and residential customers.

“GWI has always worked to bring innovation and technology together in a way that creates economic opportunity for Maine people,” said GWI Inc. CEO Fletcher Kittredge. “We were proud to partner with the university to bring the Three Ring Binder network to Maine, which runs from Kittery to Fort Kent and is now owned and run by Maine Fiber Company. And we are glad to be here today marking another first: the first Gigabit Main Street network available to both business and residential customers in the state of Maine.

“This network will be open-access for any company that wants to offer service to customers, and we hope our success here in Old Town and Orono will lead to the development of other networks and increased economic opportunity in university and rural communities across our state,” Kittredge added.

The difference in performance available to both residential and business customers on the Gigabit Main Street network powered by GWI will be dramatic, comparable to the move from dial-up to current “broadband” speeds – at roughly the same price as their current service. Dial-up modems delivered speeds of 30 to 56k. Current broadband speeds are in the neighborhood of 8,000k. GWI’s Gigabit Main Street Network will offer speeds up to 125 times faster than that.

Residential customers on GWI’s Gigabit Main Street network will have access to download speeds that are approximately 125 times faster than current broadband services, and as much bandwidth for uploads – a 1,000-fold improvement over current residential connections. This means home users will be able to stream multiple high-definition videos simultaneously, share high-definition videos and pictures with ease, and make clearer phone calls. The additional bandwidth will be offered at rates that are comparable to existing services. GWI will begin offering residential service on the Gigabit Main Street network for $59.95 per month for a quarter gigabit and $89.95 for a full gigabit.

Business customers will gain access to a faster, more reliable broadband network that supports supports skip-free, clear, high-definition video conferencing, high-quality voice over IP, and seamless integration of cloud computing solutions.

Business pricing will be similarly consistent with current market rates and determined on an individual basis per normal industry practice.

Maine’s Congressional Delegation on the Old Town-Orono Gigabit Main Street network

Senator Olympia Snowe:
“Without question, broadband is a necessity for individuals and businesses alike — it provides better access to jobs, education, government, and transforms local markets into global ones. With this expansion of ultra-high speed broadband to Orono and Old Town, these communities will experience the boundless benefit the Internet has to offer on every facet of our daily lives. It will also guarantee Maine businesses and entrepreneurs have access to the necessary advanced broadband infrastructure that will help them continue to drive strong economic growth and create 21st century jobs.”

Senator Susan Collins:
“Particularly in a rural state such as Maine, expanding Internet access is key to keeping up with global competition and to attracting and maintaining economic growth.  I commend the University of Maine, the University of Maine System, GWI, Gig U, the City of Old Town and the Town of Orono for working together in a public-private partnership to invest in next-generation broadband capabilities that will help open up a world of information, resources and services.”

Congressman Mike Michaud:
“High-speed Internet connections are not only desirable, they are critical to boosting our nation’s research and development infrastructure and the competitiveness of our businesses. The partners involved with this project should be commended for their vision. Efforts like this will help rebuild our economy and position us for future growth.”

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree:
“This is an exciting opportunity where Maine is leading — developing some of the most advanced, ultra-high-speed Internet networks available anywhere in the world. This Gigabit Main Street network is going to help create economic opportunity and innovation for existing and new businesses.  The University of Maine, GWI, leaders from Old Town and Orono and the local business community have really done a great job working together to make this initiative a reality. I’m confident this success will lead to similar networks across Maine.”

University of Maine contact: Margaret Nagle (207) 581-3745
GWI contact: Tom Janenda, (207) 590-8815 or