Maine voters should vote “yes” on Proposition No. 1 July 14. This $15-million bond, at record low interest rates, will help Maine match significant federal and private dollars to bring more fiber to communities in need.
The coronavirus crisis has hammered the point: lack of access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband internet service is a wake-up call to arms. We need broadband to every home in Maine now, not 10 years down the line. Kids can’t do their homework at home, Mom’s internet store doesn’t work right, Dad can’t telecommute for school or apply for work and Gram’s medical device can’t send data to her doctor. Reliable internet service is 6 miles away at a library or library parking lot.
The town of Penobscot is wonderful community of farmers, builders, fishermen, small business owners, retirees, etc. that ranks high on school tests, is underserved by internet and has the lowest property values on the Blue Hill Peninsula. How might this town, and so many more like it, realize a future backed by reasonable, reliable, yet world class, internet service enjoyed by most of America? Young families won’t buy houses here, business won’t start up, and as the population ages, the town is likely to die.
Vote “yes” July 14. Let’s set an aggressive goal to get there in five years. More could be fatal to many towns. Other states are moving fast. It is our hope that the state of Maine will provide leadership, relaxed pole-attachment regulation and funding for all of Maine’s broadband needs. Maine needs a statewide plan that takes into account what individual towns have been realizing. The proposed funds are a major step in the right direction but, hopefully, not the last.