January 8

Maine broadband service ranks 49th out of 50 states

Despite efforts, speeds are less than the U.S. average and access is limited – problems a group is about to tackle.

By J. Craig Anderson canderson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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A report last month from the Governor’s Broadband Capacity Building Task Force, a state-appointed panel, offered eight specific recommendations for improving broadband communications in Maine. Among them:

A three-year tax credit for Internet-related staff training and marketing expenditures to help move businesses to the Web.

Improved data-competency education at all levels from elementary school to college.

An Internet-connected device for every high school student in the state.

Using a higher percentage of the Maine State Universal Service Fund on improvements to broadband infrastructure.

The report estimated that implementing the recommendations would add as many as 11,000 jobs and $500 million in income in Maine over the next 10 years.

“Those recommendations are spot-on,” Lindley said.

Broadband advocates in Maine also have sought to improve the state’s infrastructure through litigation, said Wayne Jortner, senior counsel in the Maine Public Advocate’s Office.

The office fought and won a recent lawsuit to push FairPoint Communications Inc. to accelerate and expand its broadband network improvements to provide access to at least 87 percent of customers by April, he said.

“In fact, the litigation did cause us to go all the way to the Maine Supreme Court, and we won there again,” Jortner said. “Now they’re on track to pretty much do what they said they would do.”

Speakers at Wednesday’s conference will include Fletcher Kittredge, CEO of the Biddeford-based telecommunications provider GWI, and Joe Bourgault, senior account manager for FairPoint Communications. The event is free and open to the public.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

canderson@pressherald.com

Twitter: @jcraiganderson

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