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Maine internet options: How to find the best provider for you

Oct 31, 2023

More providers of internet access are coming online every day.

More providers of internet access are coming online every day.

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More providers of internet access are coming online every day.

More providers of internet access are coming online every day.

How can you be sure you're getting the best deal while getting the latest and greatest service? We found out.

The days of one provider having a monopoly on the market are long gone. You're no longer stuck paying top dollar from one internet company.

But how do you find out what options are available to you? It's simple, head to Once there, type in your zip code, and it will list the companies offering service in your neighborhood with prices — as well as everything else you need to know.

Maine's Total Coverage reporter Jim Keithley stopped by a neighborhood in Portland to find Red Zone's field technician Nate Pascal on the roof.

"We adjust it to get the best signal possible," Pascal told us as he was working. "In the weather, this stuff is not affected whatsoever. It's line-of-sight. Once that connection is established, it will stay that way."

The company making a name for itself as the only Maine-owned internet service provider. Red Zone has installed 90 towers in all 16 counties.

"It's a next-generation fixed wireless microwave radio, so it sends and receives data between a fiber-connected tower and the customer's home," Pascal said.

Red Zone's CEO and founder Jim McKenna admits the fixed wireless microwave does have its limits: "Wireless is where the future lies, there's no doubt about it. The next thing I’d say is, why would you want a wire if you don't need one?"

The price starts at $48 a month, and with Maine's aging population, they're offering a $30 deal for those 60 and over with a five-year price lock guarantee.

"It's a consumer's market right now. In some ways, it's a race to zero where prices keep falling, but the value keeps rising right – it really benefits consumers." McKenna said.

"Me and my wife both work from home, and I think it just came down to reliability at the end of the day." Noah Burke said.

Burke made the switch from Spectrum to Red Zone a few months ago because he said customer service was better. For him, he says reliability is more important than speed.

"It seems like a lot of the internet companies are trying to sell you on like, 500 megabytes or a gigabyte, which you really don't need, you know what I mean? People don't go out and buy cars and be like, 'What's the fastest car you have? Let me ride, I’ll take that car,'" Burke said.

Speed and reliability are key factors, says Fidium, a brand of Consolidate Communications which is making a hard push to fiber and going into communities large and small.

"It's definitely the future. At the moment, you can't get anything faster. This is the fastest residential service in the State of Maine," said Marcel Roy, an installation and maintenance technician for Consolidated Communications.

Roy was on the ground in South Portland. Fidium has spent $135 million building out new fiber lines that are believed to be the gold standard when it comes to high-speed internet.

"They can work from home. They can stream all the videos they need. They can participate in online learning. They can participate in telehealth – all of these things without buffering or having issues that you typically experience from an internet connection," said Sarah Davis, the vice president of government affairs for Consolidated Communications.

Fidium's starting price is $70 a month.

At their headquarters in Portland, they explain why fiber is so fast:

"One fiber is about the size of a hair. Very, very thin and on one end of that fiber is a laser in our central office, on the other end is another laser at the customer's house, and those lasers communicate by shooting light back and forth to each other on the same fiber – at the speed of light – which is why it gives such high speeds," said John Arris, a field operations supervisor.

In the bucket truck, Roy has been busy going from house to house and neighborhood to neighborhood.

"We have the full 12 spliced in. So, this terminal can have 12 customers working off of it. Twelve dedicated fibers," Roy explained.

"Consolidated specifically has a five-year plan to build out to over 400,000 locations in Maine. We started in some of our largest cities — in the Portlands and Falmouths — but we’ve also done really large builds in places that you wouldn't expect Rangeley and the Blue Hill peninsula and Farmington, New Sharon and Industry and far more rural places – Lisbon Falls so we’re really trying to get out to all areas of the state," Davis said.

There's even more good news: Internet options are changing fast, so if they're not in your area today, they could be tomorrow.