Below is a list of the high-speed Internet possibilities on each island, but the list won’t tell the whole story.

Each island with a school and/or a public library has high-speed Internet in these buildings, even if the rest of the island is crawling with dial-up.  Some islands are close enough to large mainland towns to enjoy high-speed access through Verizon-Fairpoint (the division between the two after the sale is still often blurred, especially when it comes to Internet.)

Other islands are too far away, but use wireless signals beamed from the mainland. But it’s all a matter of the luck of geography; there are high-speed Internet dead zones on parts of all the islands. The geographically unlucky must deal with dial-up, buy a high-cost satellite connection, or rely on the kindness of neighbors.  

Like with the installation of telephone and cellular phone service before it, obtaining high-speed is never a sure proposition for islanders. Take the experience of Cliff Island, for example. A few years back, Cliff resident Ben Bernard believed then-Verizon couldn’t offer DSL high-speed service. 

“I found a way to work around it,” he said. 

Over the years, two smaller Internet companies proposed to provide high-speed access to the island, but nothing materialized. Then, during a chance conversation with a local Verizon lineman, Bernard learned there were two underwater phone cables to Cliff and that one was copper, the stuff that carries DSL transmissions.

After quizzing Verizon, he learned he could receive DSL if his phone line was switched to the copper cable, a simple procedure.  But a Verizon engineer denied his request. Bernard kept calling until the engineer relented.

“I just kept badgering him,” Bernard said.  “He just got tired of me calling.”

The switch, quick to do, took two months. Being a good islander, Bernard began agitating for DSL for his neighbors. 

It was a hard fight. At first, Verizon wouldn’t process the orders because the company didn’t accept the billing addresses of Cliff Island residents. Then representatives would swear DSL wasn’t possible for Bernard’s neighbors. 

Armed with the schematic drawings of the phone cables, Bernard personally led most orders through the Verizon labyrinth. 

“I had to learn all the terminology they used internally,” Bernard said.  “It was maddening.”

The process took on average six months; for some, it took a year to sign up.  Now, Bernard reports most people have high-speed Internet who want it. 

So, when you look at the list below, just remember that islanders never take any service for granted. 


In alphabetical order:

Chebeague Island: The island is served by a network of wireless signals provided by the island’s homegrown wireless service provider, Co-owner Bev Johnson reports some 70 islanders are hooked up, with more to come. Many of the company’s investors also work for the company.

“Nobody’s made any money yet,” Johnson laughed.

Cranberry Isles: Resident Richard Hill reports that the town receives a radio-frequency-based wireless signal from the mainland through RedZone Wireless. The system’s initial costs were underwritten by the town government. Blue Sky, a satellite provider, offers a satellite connection for the few areas where the signal has yet to reach.   

Frenchboro: Scott Sell, Island Institute Fellow, says much of the island is covered by either TDS Telecom or Comcast. Because the town is packed together, Sell said, it’s easy to find someone with a high-speed signal, even if you don’t have it.

Great Diamond: Linda Watkins, manager of the Diamond Cove Homeowners Association, reports that those in the association use Fairpoint DSL for high-speed Internet. The other side of the island can gain high-speed Internet through Direct TV or other satellite providers.

Isle au Haut: Librarian Brenda Clark reports that some residents receive a DSL signal from TDS Telecom; the signal doesn’t reach everywhere on the island, however. 

Islesboro: Town clerk Janet Anderson said those who live close to the Verizon-Fairpoint terminal can receive a DSL signal. Otherwise, it’s dial-up or satellite dishes. 

“I stay home with dial-up, waiting for Verizon” to expand coverage, she said.

Long Island: Mark Greene, an assessor for the island, reports that Long Island enjoys Verizon-Fairpoint DSL despite being further out than some islands. The island has the good luck of a newer phone cable connection.

“It all depends on what you have for infrastructure,” Greene said.

Matinicus: Resident and Internet provider employee Paul Murray reports that residents generally can receive a high-speed signal from TDS or Midcoast Internet Solutions.

Monhegan: Islanders can enjoy DSL through Frontier Communications and Fairpoint or a wireless signal from Midcoast Internet Solutions, if they have a sight line to a wireless tower. Visitors can enjoy an Internet hotspot at a newly constructed cyber café, thanks to Holden Nelson at his inn, Monhegan House. 

North Haven: Town clerk Kathy Macy estimates that 80 percent of the island has high-speed Internet. Those within three miles of the Verizon-Fairpoint terminal get DSL; others receive a wireless signal from Midcoast Internet Solutions.  But there is a high-speed dead zone in the middle of the island.

Peaks Island: Resident reports that island residents can get high-speed Internet through their cable provider, Time-Warner, or DSL through Verizon-Fairpoint.

Swan’s Island: Selectman Dexter Lee reports that residents within three miles of the Verizon-Fairpoint infrastructure can receive a DSL high-speed signal.  Otherwise, the options are spotty and expensive on most of the island.

Vinalhaven: Town manager Marjorie Stratton reports that at work she receives a DSL wireless signal from Verizon-Fairpoint, but at home, she uses a satellite system. The same holds true for those who live away from the Verizon-Fairpoint infrastructure.