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Coverage as of 1/28/2011
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.
Phillip Lindley, 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 and property.

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 statewide: ConnectME 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 provided: ConnectME Online Survey →

For more information →


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.

Developing Broadband in Maine: Needs Assessment, v.1
Developing Broadband in Maine: Needs Assessment. Appendices, v.2
Developing Broadband in Maine: Strategic Plan

For more information →


 

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