Both the federal government and Maine would like to see better broadband service in the state, but without the right funding, plans may stall, reports GovTech.com. Telehealth services, educational access, and business opportunities are highly desirable outcomes, that come with an installation price tag.
In order to expand broadband services to the majority of state residents, ConnectMaine Authority estimates that a $600 million investment is needed.
The organization has urged the state to pony up $200 million over the next five years as its contribution. The remainder, it says, could be gathered from federal sources, and public-private partnerships.
State legislators, like Governor Janet Mills, have rallied for more funding, but so far, efforts are coming up short. The ConnectMaine Authority estimates that it costs about $35,000 for one mile of infrastructure installation. They report 83,000 households, or approximately 17,660 miles of roads in the state are underserved. The proposals for state investment of $15 million will be insufficient to reach the desired 95 percent coverage quota.
The way that Maine processes federal contributions also makes it difficult to determine how much involvement is needed. As Peggy Schaffer, the agency’s executive director, stated, Maine’s current processes do not “leave a lot of room … for the state to incentivize a company to participate” in broadband projects in a way that is economically feasible. While the various parties try to sort out who can pay for what, many of the state’s residents remain unconnected.
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