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Coverage as of 4/1/2014
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

In 2007, the Maine State Legislature established the ConnectME Authority, an independent State agency, to facilitate universal broadband in Maine, advancing the development of a secure, reliable and sustainable infrastructure that will meet future broadband needs. With support from$5 million in federal funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, as administered through Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Authority commissioned Sewall to assist the State in its mission by conducting two multi-year statewide broadband projects: (1) to map existing broadband infrastructure in the State and (2) to assess Maine broadband availability and adoption, developing a strategic plan for advancing broadband development. As of the end of 2014, Sewall will have completed both projects, which are summarized below.

ConnectME Authority Broadband Mapping and Inventory Project
One of the Authority's initial tasks was to identify the location of existing broadband infrastructure in the State and to track changes in its condition and ownership. The Authority commissioned Sewall in July 2009 to work with the Authority and broadband internet service providers on a project to identify and map the locations of services, georeferencing information on the method of delivery and speed of these services. Sewall developed and maintains an online static map gallery of broadband coverage in Maine and is currently engaged in creating a broadband service map of the state that will support the Authority's mission while contributing to a national map for broadband availability. This five-year project will be finalized in December 2014.

To access broadband mapping, visit the ConnectME Geoportal and the National Broadband Map at:

To find out what providers supply what types of broadband service to your address, enter your street address in the box on the upper left of the Broadband Availability Application at:

Broadband Availability Application

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 →

Universal Service Fund Assessment.
Part of the broadband mapping contract specifies that the State identify and implement broadband best practices. To fulfill this requirement, the Authority requested that Sewall conduct a study of the FCC’s Universal Service Fund, which through four major programs provides approximately $46 million in annual funding to Maine for telecommunications services statewide. Since the 2010 release of the National Broadband Plan, the FCC has been in the process of modernizing these programs, shifting the focus from basic telephone services to that of improving broadband access. As the reforms are fully implemented in the next few years, they are expected to create both opportunities and challenges for Maine providers, State policy makers, anchor institutions and Maine citizens who benefit from this support. The study, released in July 2014, evaluates the existing and potential impacts of USF reform on Maine stakeholders; assesses the strength of Maine’s positioning for USF support, identifying the potential gap in Maine’s future funding resources; and provides recommendations for the Authority’s use in developing Maine strategy, policy and programs that align with and maximize future USF funding for broadband.

Universal Service Fund (USF) Assessment. A Study on the Impacts and Opportunities of USF Reforms in Maine

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 used in conducting an update assessment in 2013 to track progress. A white paper that discusses the progress Maine has made in broadband development since 2007 and the challenges that lie ahead will bring closure to this project in late 2014.

Developing Broadband in Maine: Needs Assessment, v.1
Developing Broadband in Maine: Needs Assessment. Appendices, v.2
Developing Broadband in Maine: Strategic Plan
Developing Broadband in Maine: Baseline Update 2013, v.1
Developing Broadband in Maine: Baseline Update 2013. Appendices, v.2

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