AREA — Residents of Harrison, Bethel, and Rumford are benefiting from new public access Wi-Fi hotspots provided by Community Concepts Finance Corporation (CCFC)and the Northern Forest Center. Free Wi-Fi service is now available on the town common in Bethel, thanks to hotspots at the Bethel Public Library and the Bethel Historical Society. In Harrison, new service is available at the town office, Crystal Lake Park, and the Harrison Food Bank. New hotspots serving downtown Rumford were installed as part of the broader high-speed internet expansion implemented by the town.

The new free hotspots are made possible in part by a grant to CCFC from the Northern Border Regional Commission and additional support from the Center as part of the Maine West initiative.

“Free public access hotspots are an important way of expanding internet access to people who cannot access or afford service at home,” said CCFC Vice President for Economic Development Mia Purcell. “This project is part of our longer-term work to secure universal, affordable, reliable, and future-ready internet service for communities across Oxford County.”

“We know that providing affordable, universal internet service for all residents is a multi-year process,” said Phil Devlin, Chairperson of the Harrison Broadband Committee and a Harrison selectman. “Wi-Fi hotspots located in areas with public parking and a good internet connection are one short-term solution for providing internet access to currently unserved residents.”

Located in the heart of the village, the Bethel Common is a common gathering place and the site for many events, including weddings at the gazebo and Chamber-sponsored festivals. Bethel Town Manager Loretta Powers says, “the hotspots will be a great asset for the town in allowing visitors and residents alike to stay connected while they’re in town.”

Michelle Conroy, Director of the Bethel Public Library, commented that the Library and the Wi-Fi hotspots on the Common, across the street from the Library, provide the only free wireless internet service in town. She added that “there are three people outside the Library right now sitting on the steps and one person in their car using the hotspot service.”

George O’Keefe, Rumford’s Economic Development Director commented, “Community Concepts in partnership with the Town of Rumford, the Northern Forest Center, and Bangor Savings Bank has helped us build accessible, reliable, fiber served, high speed, wi-fi hotspots managed by Consolidated Communications. Accessible, reliable, and high-speed public Wi-Fi is a proven element of downtown revitalization that helps communities increase foot traffic within their existing central business districts.

CCFC has helped the Town of Rumford to leverage our $7 million downtown investment and prepare our businesses and residents for a connected future for employment, services, and high-quality living.”

Additional hotspots are available for up to four more local communities.

If your community is located in the Oxford Hills, River Valley, or greater Bethel area, and you’re interested in expanding free public internet service, contact Mia Purcell at Community Concepts Finance Corporation: [email protected]

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