China broadband committee reviews three bids for expanded service

by Mary Grow

Members of China’s Broadband Committee (CBC) displayed impressive technological understanding as they reviewed summaries of three bids for expanded and improved broadband service in town at their Feb. 11 meeting.

Tod Detre, not hesitant about answering technical questions, admitted that “my eyes glazed over” as he tried to read some of the legal sections of the bids; but fellow CBC member Jamie Pitney is an attorney and had that aspect covered.

The committee received three bids for the project, from Sertex Broadband Solutions, of Plainfield, Connecticut; Axiom Technologies of Machias, Maine; and Spectrum Community Solutions of Augusta, Maine.

The bid summaries were prepared by Mark van Loan, of Mission Broadband, the committee’s consultant for the bid process. Van Loan and John Dougherty took part in the zoom committee meeting, as did Brent Chesley from China’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee and Ben Topor, from Spectrum, the only bidder represented.

Discussion focused on what questions committee members need answered to help them compare the three bids. Van Loan and committee chairman Robert O’Connor had prepared some in advance, and other members contributed others.

If a proposal is to be submitted to voters at the Tuesday, June 8, town business meeting, committee members need to make a decision, figure out the financial implications and have their proposal reviewed by selectmen and the budget committee by mid-March. The town business meeting had originally been set for May 18, but selectmen voted to postpone it to the later date.

They therefore accepted Van Loan’s offer to send questions out on Feb. 12 with answers requested by Wednesday, Feb. 17. They scheduled a meeting to review additional information for 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 18, and meetings to interview one, two or all three bidders for Monday, Feb. 22, beginning at 5 p.m.

Sertex and Axiom each propose to build a new system from the ground up and to have it become town-owned. Both would oversee a separate construction company. Sertex would also supervise a service provider; Axiom would itself be the service provider.

Spectrum would build on its existing service network in China, including extending service to, by its figures, 120 households not now served. Other sources listed fewer expansions needed.

Detre said repeatedly his number one goal is to extend broadband service to everyone in town. No one argued. Committee members also discussed other services, like cable television, and how they would be provided by each bidder.


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