In southern Maine, when speaking of internet access, many of us are Spectrum customers, and not particularly happy customers. “Spotty service” and “high prices” are phrases often used. This experience is common statewide, where only 30 percent of people have access to broadband for $60 a month or less, according to a new study by the research firm BroadbandNow. It’s not just high prices, either: Thirty years of monopoly stagnation have left Maine with terrible connectivity, ranking 43rd overall and 47th in average speeds alone.

Citizens across our state want to do something about that by helping local companies expand their service and improve their technologies. However, if taxpayers are contributing their dollars, we want to be sure that we see real progress. Some private companies don’t want towns to leverage public funds to negotiate better service. Instead, they encourage them to hand over their state and federal dollars with no strings attached!

So these large companies like Spectrum, and the organizations that support their interests (Alliance for Quality Broadband, Maine Policy Institute and Maine Civic Action) are undermining local efforts to hold them accountable for poor service. In Leeds and Southport, they tried to stir up fear through partisanship and misinformation.

But, remember. Projects in Maine aren’t large government-owned networks, as these groups state. They are public-private partnerships with local oversight. The National Telecommunications & Information Administration awarded Maine $30 million, and Maine is successfully partnering and making progress on broadband with Consolidated, Downeast Broadband, GWI, Arctaris, Otelco, OTO and others. We’re not against private industry – that’s just false flag propaganda!

Jessica D. Simpson
Cape Elizabeth

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