Rugged Maine has beautiful beaches, but not many broadband subscribers: About 21 percent of U.S. households have broadband connection, but in Maine only 15 percent of households have broadband. RedZone Wireless, a start-up located in Rockland, Maine, wants to change that. Because it is a local company, RedZone knows that the state has only one big city, Portland. Any broadband strategy must find a way to make money in rural areas and small towns. The company's approach, therefore, is to concentrate on Tier 2 markets, that is, towns of 3,500 to 50,000 inhabitants.
"The idea is to replicate this model," CEO Jim McKenna told Wi-Fiplanet. "We've identified 50 other cities and towns in Maine that are good candidates for this model--basically, any town of 3,500 residents or more that has a central village within the community. What you find in New England is that [the bulk of] the community lives within a one-to-two-mile area, the village center. This is true for towns like Thomaston, Rockland, Camden, Belfast, Bucksport, Hampden, Bangor, Waterville, Augusta, Skowhegan, Dexter and Mount Desert Island. Some of these places have already pursued us."
Most Mainers now pay $9.95 a month for a dial-up connection, so $19.95 a month for broadband would be considered a stretch, while $50 a month would be regarded as unaffordable. McKenna considered different technologies and price points before settling on a robust scalable dual-radio mesh network as the solution.
For more on RedZone's plans for Maine:
- see Naomi Graychase's Wi-fi Planet report