FOR BETTER BROADBAND ACCESS

Maine’s gubernatorial candidates agree that it is important to the state’s economy to expand broadband internet access in rural areas. All four candidates were asked how their administration would approach solving the problem. Here are their responses:

Alan Caron, Independent – Proposes $100 million bond in his first term, and another in his second, to build a broadband system to connect every city and town in Maine.

“Every generation before us has invested in the future by building the critical infrastructure of their time, whether that was canals, roads, railroads, electric grids or telephone networks. Now it’s time for us to invest in the infrastructure of tomorrow, which is high-speed Internet connections wherever you live in Maine. I am promoting a new innovation-driven economy in Maine, driven by entrepreneurs and Maine ingenuity. We cannot achieve that goal without fast internet connections in all parts of the state.”

Terry Hayes, Independent – Plans to invest $100 million annually for four years to expand broadband by maximizing private and federal investment in broadband infrastructure.

“These public-private partnerships will build upon efforts to close the digital divide in rural Maine. We need to deploy smart fiber networks to increase connectivity and advance innovative approaches to doing business in Maine. We need to prioritize modern fiber-optic connectivity to critical businesses (such as hospitals, health centers, business parks, schools and community centers) to meet the ever-increasing demand for faster upload and download speeds for all.”

Janet Mills, Democrat – Intends to create Broadband Expansion Districts, which will serve as a vehicle for towns to collaborate in expanding and administering broadband services. Those districts would be supported by prioritizing grants from the ConnectME Authority. Both initiatives are part of a statewide broadband strategy to leverage public and private partnerships.

“I am also interested in exploring broadband regional hubs to make high-speed internet available to remote areas of Maine, particularly along the coast, where it is not cost-effective for private providers to expand access. In today’s globally competitive economy, it’s critical that we are connected – because when we are, Maine people are able to compete with anyone, anytime.”

Shawn Moody, Republican – Wants to create strong public-private partnerships, encourage private companies to make investments in Maine, leverage federal funds where they are available, and strategically invest state resources where they are needed. Also to improve rural access to high-speed internet.

“We need to make access to broadband a priority if we want to revitalize rural Maine’s economy. No one entity is going to solve this problem alone. ConnectME has done good work to evaluate our needs as a state, and to tackle broadband access. We need to build on this work, and coordinate the various efforts taking place in Maine.”

– Staff Writer J. Craig Anderson

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