Pressing Need

Technology’s Indispensable Role In Maine’s Future

The media has reported quite aggressively that Maine ranks 49th out of the 50 American states for the quality of it broadband services, thus putting the state at a serious economic disadvantage. This situation is addressed directly in “Maine broadband service ranks 49th out of 50 states,” an article published in the Portland Press Herald in early 2014. That is not good news. As policy leaders grapple with this reality and plan for the state’s economic future, Maine Broadband Coalition makes the following observations.

1. To enjoy a 21st century economy, Maine needs a 21st century telecommunications.

Just as the 20th century required adequate roads, and the centuries before required railroads and navigable rivers, today we must have high-speed Internet connections to the world in order to improve our economic prospects.

Without high-speed Internet connections, Maine companies will not be able to compete, new companies will not relocate to Maine, highly skilled workers will not relocate to Maine and talented young people will leave.

2. Building a world-class telecommunications infrastructure will draw people and investments to Maine.

Today, people don’t have to live where they work; they can work where they live, as long as they can connect seamlessly to their employers and the global Internet. People want to live in Maine — a competitive advantage for us. Building high-speed networks throughout the state will allow people to live and work in rural Maine as never before. Young people can stay where they want to live, because they can find jobs locally or telecommute. Older citizens can stay in their homes because of advances in tele-healthcare. Kids can learn in schools and at home with connections to the world.

3. We have to build a network that is designed for tomorrow, not today.

Tomorrow’s economy will absolutely require very high-speed networks. This will provide the crucial ability to both download and upload data at speeds hundreds or thousands of times faster than those to which most Mainers have access today. Extraordinary foresight and planning must drive this effort, so that these networks remain useful and vital, for at least the balance of this century.

4. Let’s be smart about how to build this network.

Maine is a large state and building advanced networks will be a massive undertaking. Doing this right will take careful planning and many hands. We’ll need expertise from across the state, and the country, to better understand what we need and how to succeed. We’ll need to combine financial support from public and private, state, federal and local sources. To build these networks, we’ll need to make smart choices. We are self-reliant, and our local communities know best what they need to survive, and thrive. Maine’s cities are already making progress. We should support these efforts with financial and technical assistance to make sure they succeed.

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