With broadband rural Maine isn’t the end of the road, it’s the middle of the road

A post on Maine, how unusual for me. But a friend sent me info on Maine and it seemed like a good time to take a look at what someone else is doing. They have a nice video that talks about the benefits of broadband through stories – the family that could stay in their rural county because they can work online, the lobster company that’s growing with their new connection to the rest of the world, the older couple staying in their home with access to remote monitoring, better schools with interactive classrooms…

Like us in Minnesota, the Maine Legislature is talking about broadband. It’s interesting to see the similarities and differences between what they want and what we have and/or are seeking in Minnesota. I’m only looking at the highest level but here’s what I see:

  • Maine wants a Maine Broadband Initiative – akin to the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development. I know our OBD has made a difference not only in administering the Minnesota broadband grant program but also in working with community and providers to help initiative a smooth path for partnership, keeping policymakers informed of broadband needs and keeping an eye on what’s happening outside the state that can benefit the state. A broadband seat in state government keeps the conversation alive.
  • Maine’s Initiative Governing Board is akin to the MN Task Force – except their group sounds more like a working group, while Minnesota is advisory.
  • The Maine bill defines unserved as 25 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload speed.  It defines high speed broadband as service providing at least 50 Mbps symmetrical service. Minnesota has gone with 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up goals for 2022 and 100/20 goals for 2026. I applaud their higher upload goals.
  • Maine is looking to move away from small grants to communities and focus on larger interventions. Minnesota focuses on grants to the local community. It will/would be interesting to see the benefits of each approach. In Minnesota I think the focus is on local because each community is so different in their assets and needs.
  • Finally in Maine is looking for $7 million in ongoing funds for the initiative – for planning and small infrastructure grants, data gathering, staffing and a $100 million bond for infrastructure. In Minnesota current numbers being discussed are $7 million from the House, $20 million from the Senate and $60 from the Governor’s Office for infrastructure grants and $250,000 annual for the OBD.
This entry was posted in Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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