Shelley Winchenbach, left, and Melinda Kinney, director and senior director, respectively, of government affairs for Charter Communications, address Wilton selectpersons March 7 on what the company will bring to the town after it acquires Bee Line Cable. Bee Line Cable is Maine’s oldest broadband providers, according to General Manager George Allen.  Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

WILTON — Charter Communications plans to purchase Bee Line Cable, one of Maine’s oldest broadband providers, this spring, Bee Line General Manager George Allen said.

“It’s a large process,” Allen said in a phone interview last week. “You’ve got a lot of (Federal Communications Commission) filings to do and state filings. And then, of course, the local franchise filings, things like that. So, it all takes time.”

According to Allen, Bee Line Cable was started in Houlton in 1954 by Owen Hannigan.

“We’re the oldest broadband company in the state of Maine,” Allen said.

Charter Communications has been interested in Bee Line Cable since it purchased Time Warner Cable, he said.

“Time Warner was always knocking on our door, because our properties are pretty nice,” Allen said.


Bee Line provides service to communities that include East Millinocket, Millinocket, Anson, Madison, Skowhegan, Farmington, Wilton and Industry. In Wilton, Bee Line serves almost 1,900 residents.

Melinda Kinney, senior director of government affairs for Charter Communications, and Shelley Winchenbach, director of government affairs for Charter Communications, met with the Select Board on March 7. In their presentation, they said the company provides services in 41 states with 32 million customers and more than 800,000 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure nationwide.

In Maine, the company provides services to 295 communities and has 753 employees. Its customer base is roughly 466,000, according to the directors.

Charter purchased Time Warner Cable in 2016 for $56.7 billion and is the dominant cable service provider in Maine.

With the acquisition, Charter will absorb Bee Line and all its assets within the region, as well as its personnel.

“We’ve got a lot of talent at Bee Line and a lot of long-term employees,” Allen said. “I expect they’re going to pick up the majority of the employees.”


Speaking at the March 7 meeting, Town Manager Perry Ellsworth said, “Bee Line didn’t take very good care of Wilton and hasn’t met its commitments for a number of years.”

However, Allen defended the company. “I can provide you with all the line extensions that we’ve been doing in Wilton, and the emails that have been going back and forth between me and Rhonda Irish for years,” he told Ellsworth.

Irish served as Wilton town manager for 13 years, retiring in August 2022.

“During the COVID pandemic when that started,” he said, “we were right out straight building line extensions. I’m more than happy to provide you with a list.”

Ellsworth did not acknowledge the statement.

Bee Line customers may call 800-439-4611 for more information.

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