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Broadband Hearings on Thursday


LD 826: An Act to Promote Maine’s Economic Development and Critical Communications for Rural Family Farms, Businesses and Residences by Strategic Public Investments in High-speed Internet.

Public hearing before the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee is scheduled for Thursday, April 2, Cross Building, Room 211, beginning at 1:00 p.m.

 *    LD 826 will increase funding for the state agency known as the ConnectME Authority. This agency is charged with bringing broadband Internet service to every address in Maine. The bill would increase funding for high-speed Internet Infrastructure Investment in Maine from $1 million to $5 million annually.

*    LD 826 will re-establish ConnectME’s historical mandate by prioritizing increased funding to the six percent of the Maine population that is currently UNserved, meaning they currently have is no broadband Internet access. ConnectME would so this by leveraging additional federal funds to help provide “middle mile” and “last mile” infrastructure investment – getting some form of Internet to all locations where there is currently electric or landline telephone service.

*    LD 826 would direct ConnectME to get this rural six percent of the population connected to some form of broadband Internet before spending money to increase the speed and capacity of the 82 percent of the population who have already have an Internet connection, even though it is slower than the new standards. These areas are classified as UNDERserved.

*    LD 826 will prioritize high-speed Internet investment for UNSERVED family farms, rural businesses and residences. High-speed Internet and improved communications for rural Maine will create new economic growth and job opportunities and help keep jobs and young people in Maine. It will also open up new rural markets for those urban businesses in Maine seeking additional customers for their online marketing efforts.

*    LD 826 could add up to $50 million annually to Maine’s economy, based on economic studies that show a dollar spent in high-speed broadband investments can generate 10 dollars in benefits.

 We need farmers at the hearing telling their story

*    Please attend and present your three-minutes of oral testimony. You’ll want to bring 25 copies of your written statement for the Committee. If you can not attend the public hearing please email your written comments to the Committee staff at: benjamin.frech@legislature.maine.gov. You can find Tips on Communicating with Legislators from the Farm Bureau: http://www.mainefarmbureau.com/legislative-affairs/tips-guidelines .

      When writing to or testifying before Legislators, your greatest impact will be made when you relate your own story. Briefly explain who you are, where you’re from and what you do. Then zero in and explain why you personally support LD 826 and what it will do for you. Provide details about how improved access to High Speed Internet will impact your life and improve your family’s economic security.

For example, “I’m a family farmer and part of our local food hub. Our farm must have reliable high speed Internet so we can communicate crop availability to the Hub Coordinator and upload photos of our crops which will be used in Hub marketing.”

*   Even if you do attend the hearing, please telephone or write both your Maine Representative and State Senator expressing your support for LD 826. Letters are best sent to the legislators’ homes. Find your Legislators at:   http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/townlist.htm

Information from Maine Farm Bureau.

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