|ConnectME views this
initiative as a significant step forward in meeting our
goal to expand broadband access throughout the entire
state, and especially in the most rural, unserved areas
of Maine. Sewall is the logical choice to be our consultant.
Sewall understands the broadband challenges the State
faces, has the technical abilities needed to meet our
requirements, and shares our commitment to advancing broadband
as a strategic pillar of economic development.
The ConnectME Authority
Developing Broadband in Maine
The ConnectME Authority
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009
was signed into law to create jobs, spur economic activity,
and drive the adoption of new technologies that build our
global competitive advantage. Major investment under the act
is targeted to infrastructure repair and remediation and to
the expansion of broadband and wireless service.
The US, once viewed as a high technology economy, has fallen
significantly behind global contemporaries in the area of
high speed communications systems. The demand for broadly
available, interoperable high-speed communication technologies
has increased in almost all aspects of daily life, from interstate
commerce to health, education, and emergency response. Recent
examples of a failing system are evident in our poor response
to the 9-11 attacks and the devastation created by HurricaneKatrina.
In both, communications systems did not support the needs
of emergency responders, creating additional loss of life
To address the broadband challenge in Maine, the State legislature
established the ConnectME Authority in 2007. The Authority's
mission--to increase and improve the delivery of high-speed
internet and wireless communications systems--specified that
the Authority identify areas unserved or under-served by broadband
capabilities and expand availability with sufficient bandwidth,
synchronicity, reliability, and security to meet the needs
of Maine businesses and agencies, educational institutions
and consumers. Since then, the Authority has awarded more
than $3.6 million in grants and funded 43 major infrastructure
buildout projects, developing service to unserved communities
across the State.
ConnectME Authority Mapping Project
The Authority's task at the outset was to identify the location
of existing infrastructure in the State and to track changes
in its condition and ownership. To assist in this effort,
the Authority selected Sewall as GIS mapping consultant in
July 2009. Sewall, working with the Authority and broadband
internet service providers, has since launched a three-year
project to identify and map the locations of services, georeferencing
information on the method of delivery and speed of these services.
Funded in part by a $2.65 million grant from the National
Telecommunications and Information Adminstration (NTIA), an
FCC-administered federal program, and the USDA Rural Utilities
Service, Sewall is currently engaged in creating a broadband
service map of Maine that will support the Authority's mission
while contributing to a national map for broadband availability.
To help shape broadband service in Maine:
- Test the connection speed of your internet service online.
The data will be used to verify map and other information
and to establish a long-term plan for broadband service
Speed Test →
- Answer our 10-minute online survey on the availability
and use of high speed internet at your location. This information
will be used to verify locations at which this service is
Online Survey →
ConnectME Authority Planning Project
The Authority has also commissioned Sewall and teaming partners
Packard Judd Kaye Strategic Marketing Group; Jeff Letourneau,
Executive Director of Networkmaine; and Dr. Todd Gabe, Associate
Professor of Economics at the University of Maine, to assist
in developing a long-term sustainability plan for the expansion
and delivery of broadband services throughout Maine.
The initial phase of the four-year project established a
detailed, reliable baseline of broadband availability and
use in Maine and identified barriers to the adoption of broadband
in the state. The baseline study drew upon survey data gathered
from residential and business consumers, service providers,
community anchor institutions, technology-dependent industries
(telemedicine), State agencies, and Native Indian Tribes.
The means for gathering data included a statewide statistical
survey mailed to over 10,000 residences and 3.500 businesses,
which yielded an unusually high response rate of 26 percent
and 17 percent respectively. Additional data were collected
from six public forums held throughout the state; online and
phone surveys; third party data; and existing surveys.
Data from the broadband mapping project (see description
above) was used in the analysis as well. Locations of service
availability, service packages and pricing, and service speeds,
both advertised and recorded, were used in the identification
of unserved and underserved areas.
Once assembled, the baseline data were modeled along with
consumer characteristics, such as age, income, educational
attainment, occupation, and business characteristics, such
as industry and employment size, to study their effect on
broadband subscribership. A needs
assessment report delivered June 2011 examined broadband
take-rates and the current use of broadband, and identified
barriers to broadband adoption.
Based on the needs assessment, the team has collaborated
with the ConnectME Authority to develop and deliver a strategic broadband plan for Maine. This plan, which is aligned
with the FCC's National Broadband Plan, summarizes the findings
from the analysis and presents six strategic recommendations
to the Authority for increasing broadband availability, reducing
barriers to adoption, and increasing broadband uptake in Maine.
The plan also includes a set of comparative indices that the
team will use in conducting annual followup assessments to
track progress. Findings will be published in progress reports,
and a final report will be prepared describing areas of success
and the remaining challenges.
Broadband in Maine: Needs Assessment, v.1
Broadband in Maine: Needs Assessment. Appendices, v.2
Developing Broadband in Maine: Strategic Plan
more information →