Rural Maine loses out on funds to expand broadband – again.

By Robin Beck, Maine Rural Partners

The Maine State Legislature has rejected a bill that would have funded ConnectME Authority’s budget to expand high-speed internet into unserved areas of rural Maine. Rural Maine is yet again ignored.

The expansion of good, fast, reliable broadband in rural Maine would be to the betterment not just to rural Mainers but to the state as a whole. Increases in annual business sales could increase by $50,000,000 according to ConnectME’s 2015 annual report. Broadband would also increase the ability to better educate our children and those who need to change careers; to bring in tourists who still want to stay connected to the outside world even if they are in Vacationland; to attract new residents who can telecommute and work from anywhere; and to bring back previous residents who would love to start a new business or stay in their family’s business in rural Maine.

Maine Rural Partners would like to thank the 109 State Representatives who voted to increase ConnectME’s budget. Unfortunately, in the effort to reach a compromise on a budget, the additional funding to expand broadband to unserved parts of Maine ended up on the cutting room floor.  We thank those Representatives who worked diligently get this funding, and thank the Maine Farm Bureau and the Maine Broadband Coalition for advocating hard to bring reliable high speed connections to rural Maine.  Sadly, our rural communities are again left on the side lines, with little funding to bring this sorely needed infrastructure that would boost life and business line in rural Maine.

We at MRP are examining what can be done for rural Maine. We are currently surveying all Mainers actual internet speed. To get involved just go to our website at mainerural.org and follow the instructions. MRP stands behind rural Maine and is reaching out to rural businesses to show how expanding the internet will positively affect them. Please consider supporting MRP’s mission so we can help get fast reliable broadband to everyone.