Wilton Town Manager Perry Ellsworth, center, discusses with the Select Board Tuesday evening, Nov. 7, about working with another broadband provider for the MCA grant. Also pictured, from left to right, are Selectperson Keith Swett, Chairperson Tiffany Maiuri and Selectperson David Leavitt. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

WILTON — Town Manager Perry Ellsworth suggested to the Wilton Board of Selectpersons on Tuesday, Nov. 7, that the board meet an hour prior to the regularly scheduled Select Board meeting to hold an executive session and meet with two potential alternatives to Matrix Design Group, who the town has been working with since early November 2022 to secure and utilize a grant through the Maine Connectivity Authority [MCA].

“We’ve all been talking about Matrix and the MCA grant for quite a period of time now,” Ellsworth told the Select Board. “Nothing has moved.”

Ellsworth and Chris Lynch of Matrix began working together after the Select Board granted Ellsworth permission to draft a grant proposal with Lynch’s assistance. The grant with MCA would provide funds for Matrix Design Group to build infrastructure and provide reliable, high speed, and affordable broadband to rural communities. Additionally, after a minimum of five years, the town will have the option to buy out the infrastructure from Matrix and assume control of it as a municipality service.

An update on the MCA grant came in March, where Lynch shared how many homes could be potentially serviced and at what cost to Wilton residents. Between the November meeting and March, MCA adjusted the perimeters of what it considered “unserved”, which would have included over 1,400 homes in the town.

As for pricing, $95 was originally considered for monthly cost, but MCA requested a lower price point of below $60 with an additional affordable tier of $30, which homes that qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program from the FCC would be able to get vouchers that would cover the cost of internet.

Ellsworth, at the meeting on Tuesday, also suggested reaching out to MCA to renegotiate the terms of the contract as he feels a 50% market share in the town is not possible.


“We haven’t been able to achieve anywhere close to that,” he said, stating 50% market share in the town would amount to 700 households.

The Select Board voted to accept the MCA grant in July, with Matrix Design Group project manager Matthew Dunn and account manager Lauren Cassle appearing before the Select Board to discuss getting a 50% market share.

Prior to this meeting, the Select Board received a visit from Brian Lippold of Casco Bay Advisors, LLC, who advised against pursuing the MCA grant due to Consolidated Communications expanding from East Wilton to the rest of Wilton and Charter Communication buying out Beeline Cable.

Now, with two competing service providers, the question of whether or not Wilton can demonstrate at least a 50% market share has threatened the potential for the grant and the project as a whole. Ellsworth asked Dunn, on behalf of the Select Board, if the grant and project were feasible if the 50% market share is not achieved.

“If the 50% rate isn’t achieved, then essentially, you have to go back to the board and the grant funds go away,” Dunn stated. “Is it feasible to build without the grant funds and the infusion of that capital? My guess is probably not.”

Cassle assured the board that getting a 50% market share was not an issue in other towns when Matrix Design Group and the town partnered together to spread the word of the service.


Ellsworth told the Select Board on Tuesday that at least two different entities, which he did not disclose to the board, were interested in working with Wilton to provide broadband services to the town utilizing the MCA grant. He advised the Select Board to meet with those individuals before the next meeting.

Selectperson David Leavitt agreed, adding, “We obviously can’t seem to get anything out of the Matrix, and its not benefitting the town in what they are doing right now.”

In other business, the Select Board voted unanimously to accept a grant from the Operation Stonegarden program. Funds from the program invest in joint efforts to secure the United States’ borders along routes of ingress from international borders to include travel corridors in states bordering Mexico and Canada, as well as states and territories with international water borders.

According to Ellsworth, the program would provide $5,000 in hourly wage, $1,380 in fringe benefits, $3,500 in gear and $200 in fuel.

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