Risk & Business Magazine F.A. Peabody Insurance Magazine Fall 2017 - Page 30

IRRESISTIBLE PEOPLE

Pioneer Broadband LIGHTING UP THE INTERNET

The F . A . Peabody Company ( FAPCO ) had been selling insurance and keeping paper files for nearly seventy-five years , but by the turn of the past century , it was clear that technology was here to stay and developing at breakneck speed . With six offices spanning over 150 miles , all accessing one agency management system and customer database , network connectivity was a necessity . Northern Maine had severely limited access and availability to “ last mile ” services , the final connection from a network to its end users . The “ last mile ” is particularly challenging in rural areas throughout the country , with most broadband options available only in cities . In 2001 , Tim McAfee , FAPCO ’ s automation manager at the time , sought to connect the FAPCO offices with a wide-area network , but cost proved to be a significant barrier . Chris Anderson , FAPCO President , says “ our insurance offices could not be connected by widearea network without spending thousands in inflated T-1 fees , with expensive installation charges and waiting periods .”

While researching all the available technologies , Tim discovered that a wireless network could be built that would connect the FAPCO offices and reduce expenses overall . As he and Chris explored this option , they realized that an investment in this new technology would not only benefit the F . A . Peabody Company but also could effectively “ cross the digital divide ” that was plaguing Northern Maine as a whole by selling access to high-speed Internet access to homes and businesses in each of the branch office ’ s communities . Construction on the Pioneer Wireless Network began in the fall of 2001 with tower site construction and antenna installations , and by June 2002 , the first customer was signed on .
ACQUISITION AND GROWTH As demand for broadband services grew quickly , Pioneer examined the market and the competitors that existed in it . Several Internet service providers were working in Northern Maine , but the overall resources for expansion were lacking . In 2003 , Pioneer developed a partnership with Polaris Cable in Houlton to offer cable Internet services to the community . Over the next several years , Pioneer Wireless acquired other wireless networks to build on its own network and provide more consistent service . The company acquired the networks created by Maine Farmers ’ Exchange ( MFX ), CCP Wireless , Wabanaki Wireless , and Aroostook Internet .
Northern Maine was at a geographical disadvantage for many services , including Internet access , compared to more populated areas . The only connections to the World Wide Web from Northern Maine were through larger connections in the Portland area or beyond . If something went wrong in Portland , all of Northern Maine was cut off from the Internet . To mitigate this problem , Pioneer Wireless received approval to connect fiber across the Canadian border to Bell Alliant in New Brunswick . This was the first connection of its kind and opened up a unique international connection to the rest of the world , which eased reliance on southern connections .
RURAL BROADBAND CHALLENGES Tim McAfee , now the CEO of Pioneer Broadband , had always wanted to provide high-speed Internet to every home and business in Northern Maine , however , because of the vast area and sparse population , building a network to reach every home was simply cost prohibitive . Recognizing this challenge , the Maine State Legislature formed the Connect Maine Authority ( ConnectME ) in 2006 . ConnectME ’ s purpose is to provide funding to expand broadband services throughout rural Maine . Since its inception , ConnectME has awarded 11 million dollars in grants and helped provide broadband service to nearly 40,000 homes and businesses in Maine . Pioneer has connected nearly 3,500 homes and businesses that would not otherwise have been able to receive broadband services using this funding source .
STAYING AHEAD OF CHANGE Around 2008 , while wireless sales were booming and connectivity had exceeded expectations , Tim foresaw that new connection technology was being developed which was superior to wireless technology . To take advantage of technologies such as Digital Subscriber Line ( DSL ), fiber optics , and digital telephone , Pioneer was required to become a Competitive Local Exchange Carrier ( CLEC ) in the eyes of the Federal Communications Commission and Maine Public Utilities Commission . When Pioneer was awarded this qualification , it rebranded to Pioneer Broadband to reflect the availability of these new services . In 2011 , the company effectively purchased Sherman Cable and entered the cable
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IRRESISTIBLE PEOPLE Pioneer Broadband LIGHTING UP THE INTERNET T he F. A. Peabody Company (FAPCO) had been selling insurance and keeping paper files for nearly seventy-five years, but by the turn of the past century, it was clear that technology was here to stay and developing at breakneck speed. With six offices spanning over 150 miles, all accessing one agency management system and customer database, network connectivity was a necessity. Northern Maine had severely limited access and availability to “last mile” services, the final connection from a network to its end users. The “last mile” is particularly challenging in rural areas throughout the country, with most broadband options available only in cities. In 2001, Tim McAfee, FAPCO’s automation manager at the time, sought to connect the FAPCO offices with a wide-area network, but cost proved to be a significant barrier. Chris Anderson, FAPCO President, says “our insurance offices could not be connected by wide- area network without spending thousands in inflated T-1 fees, with expensive installation charges and waiting periods.” While researching all the available technologies, Tim discovered that a wireless network could be built that would connect the FAPCO offices and reduce expenses overall. As he and Chris explored this option, they realized that an investment in this new technolog B[ۛH[Y]HKXXB\[H][[YX][H8'ܛHY][]Yx'H]\YZ[“ܝ\XZ[H\HHH[[˜X\Y \YY[\]X\šY\[\[\\[XXوB[ٙXx&\[][]Y\ˈۜX[ۂۈH[ۙY\\[\]ܚY[[H[و H]\]BۜX[ۈ[[[H[[][ۜ[H[H H\\Y\\œYۙYۋPURTUSӈSԓ\[X[܈Y[\X\ܙ]œ]ZXK[ۙY\^[Z[YHX\][H\]]ܜ]^\Y[] ]\[[\]\XHݚY\\Hܚ[[ܝ\XZ[K]Hݙ\[\\\™܈^[[ۈ\HX[ˈ[ [ۙY\][YH\\\]\\XH[[ۈٙ\XB[\]\X\H[][]Kݙ\H^]\[YX\[ۙY\\[\˜X]Z\Y\\[\]ܚZ[ۈ]ۈ]ܚ[ݚYH[ܙBۜ\[\XKH\[HX]Z\YH]ܚܙX]YHXZ[H\Y\&B^[H Q K\[\X[ZB\[\[\[\] ܝ\XZ[H\]H[ܘ\X[\Y[YH܈X[H\X\[Y[’[\]X\\\Y[ܙB[]Y\X\ˈHۛHۛX[ۜHܛYHXHܝ\XZ[H\HY\\ۛX[ۜ[Hܝ[\XH܈^[ۙ YY][[ܛۙ[ܝ[ [وܝ\XZ[H\]ٙHH[\] ›Z]Y]H\؛[K[ۙY\\[\œXZ]Y\ݘ[ۛXX\XܛH[YX[ܙ\[[X[[][Xˈ\\H\ۛX[ۂو][[[Y\H[\]YB[\][ۘ[ۛX[ۈH\وBܛ XX\Y[X[Hۈ]\ۛX[ۜ˂TSQSSST•[HXYYKHSو[ۙY\Y[ Y[^\[YœݚYHY \YY[\]]\BYH[\[\[ܝ\XZ[K]\X]\HوH\\XH[\H[][ۋZ[[H]ܚXX]\HYH\[\HX]]KXۚ^[\[[KHXZ[H]HY\]\HܛYYBۛXXZ[H]]ܚ]H ۛXQJB[ ۛXQx&\\H\œݚYH[[^[Y[\X\Y]\[XZ[K[B][\[ۋۛXQH\]\YLHZ[[ۈ\[ܘ[[[YݚYHY[\XHX\H Y\[\[\\[XZ[K[ۙY\\ۛXYX\H L Y\[\[\\][\\H]BY[XHXZ]HY[\X\\[\[[\KVRSRPQшSB\[  [H\[\[\\HZ[[ۛX]]HY^YYY^X][ۜ[Hܙ\]]]ۛX[ۈXH\˜Z[][YX\\\[܈\[\XKZHY[YHقXY\X\Y][XܚX\[H  KX\X[Y][[\ۙK[ۙY\\\]Z\Y˜XYHH\]]]H[^[B\Y\ PH[H^Y\وHY\[[][X][ۜ[Z\[ۈ[XZ[BXX][]Y\[Z\[ۋ[[ۙY\\]\Y\]X[YX][ۋ]X[Y[ۙY\Y[YXH]Z[X[]Hو\H]\X\ˈ[ LKH\[HYX][H\\Y\X[XH[[\YHX