New Shoreham’s wind-powered broadband program to launch next week

NEW SHOREHAM – Block Island’s broadband access has historically been hampered by outdated, slow telecommunications services, town officials say, with some residents unable to access a regular internet connection at all.

That will change on June 5, with New Shoreham prepared to launch a wind-powered, publicly funded local broadband network, known as BroadbandBI, that’s been years in the making.

The island community’s long-standing need for a faster, more affordable broadband service became increasingly apparent during COVID-19 lockdowns, the town said in an announcement.

When negotiating with what was then known as the Deepwater Wind wind farm project, New Shoreham secured an agreement to include a fiber optic connection as part of the wind farm installation. And residents lent their support, with voters authorizing up to $8 million in tax-supported bonds at a July 2020 town meeting to fund the broadband network.

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The town has so far funded the project entirely through this funding source and will require a tax increase on residents to recoup costs. But officials are still pursuing federal funding, said New Shoreham Finance Director Amy Lewis Land, and anticipate that the monthly tax increase should be lower than costs associated with previously existing broadband options.

“We had to move forward without a promise of assistance, so we set rates for a recapture that would cover our costs and create a viable, sustainable framework to operate the utility long term,” Lewis Land said.

Town officials plan to launch the network on June 5 with a lighting celebration.

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at