Charter is proud to serve more than 448,000 customers across 293 communities in Maine, and we continue to invest millions of dollars in the state each year, including $55 million in 2020 alone. We’re extending our network and investing heavily in rural Maine, including towns that look very similar to Leeds. And we’re proud that our Spectrum Internet® was recently ranked the No. 1 rural internet service provider by U.S. News & World Report. This recognition underscores our ongoing commitment to bringing quality products and services to rural America.

We have a strong record of partnering with state and local governments to identify and help connect unserved communities to gigabit speeds across our entire footprint, no data caps, no modem fees and no annual contracts, and provided by our U.S.-based workforce – including nearly 700 in Maine, myself included.

That is why my colleagues and I were so disappointed to see the editorial board flagrantly mischaracterize Charter’s work to close the digital divide in Maine, specifically in the town of Leeds (Our View, Nov. 23).

Facts matter. Here’s what they missed:

Charter is a staunch believer in public-private partnerships and does not oppose them, as the editorial board suggested. More than most, we understand the significance of connectivity. We believe that to ensure service availability for all Americans, valued (and limited) government resources should be focused on connecting those who are still waiting for access to high-speed broadband, not on those who already have it from one or more existing providers.

Government-built and -operated broadband networks can be a solution for communities that lack service entirely, but that is not the case in Leeds. Residents of Leeds already have access through not only one but also two broadband providers – Charter and Consolidated Communications.

Charter recently submitted a proposal to connect all remaining unserved homes in Leeds at a fraction of what it would cost for the town to build its own network, important information blatantly omitted by the editorial board. On Oct. 20, I went to the town’s regularly scheduled public meeting, which was attended by Leeds officials, to present our offer to build to the remaining unserved homes in Leeds, with the vast majority of the costs paid by Charter, and at no risk to taxpayers. At a cost of just under $1 million – the town would contribute only a small portion – $231,000 – while Charter would add its own private investment to cover the remaining 75 percent.

Charter competes with other providers all over the country and would do so effectively if faced with that prospect in Leeds. But there are countless examples of failed municipal broadband ventures – towns and cities just like Leeds that issued bonds to get into the broadband business, eventually shutting down or selling them off for pennies on the dollar, leaving taxpayers saddled with nothing but debt.

Leeds should not make the same mistake. For the roughly $231,000 it received from the American Rescue Plan Act’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, alongside Charter’s private investment, Leeds can connect the remaining unserved homes for a fraction of the $2.2 million price tag to undertake a duplicative government-owned network. Charter’s proposal eliminates Leeds taxpayers’ risk and allows them to use public resources to focus on delivering other critical town services, like education, public safety, roads and parks. Moving forward with a $2.2 million bond puts an unnecessary financial burden on Leeds residents and is a risky (and proven to be unsuccessful) venture the town should not take.

Charter looks forward to helping provide vital connectivity to unserved communities across rural Maine and working with state and local partners to deliver timely, effective and forward-looking solutions to help close Maine’s digital divide.


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