In his Nov. 15 column, “Decision to invest in publicly owned broadband a leap of faith,” Charles Lawton fails to mention the low cost of high-speed Internet when compared with other infrastructure, and the variety of ways communities can mitigate their investment risk. Repaving a mile of two-lane road costs over $500,000. In comparison, a mile of fiber-optic cable costs, on average, $26,000.

To reduce risk, communities can opt for a pre-subscription model, where incentives are offered to individuals and businesses who commit to subscribe prior to network buildout.

In other cases, towns have opted for an incremental approach, building systems that connect municipal buildings or downtown areas, with the capacity to add to the system at a later time. This has been done in Rockport and South Portland.

High-speed broadband is critical if we are to attract younger people and businesses in Maine. Communities that work thoughtfully to upgrade their Internet systems can reap many rewards from their investment.

Susan Inches

senior consultant, Tilson