Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Connect Maine Authority
Content tagged with "Connect Maine Authority"Displaying 1 - 5 of 5
This week we are giving you a double dose of our new Building For Digital Equity podcast. In Episode 4, our research associate Emma Gautier interviews Kim Ilinon and Ella Silvas, two Interactive Media Design students from the University of Washington-Bothell.
Kim and Ella, who both gave lightning round presentations at Net Inclusion 2023 in San Antonio last month, discuss how they got into digital equity from a design background and what they have learned about who is doing digital equity work in Washington state.
You can watch their 3 minute lightning talk here:
And you can listen to the 12-minute long B4DE podcast with Kim and Ella here:
Also available is Episode 5 of the B4DE podcast, which features Susan Corbett, Executive Director of the National Digital Equity Center, an organization that has long been involved in policy around Internet access and digital equity both in Maine and across the United States.
ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Director Christopher Mitchell discusses with Susan how she got started doing digital equity work in 2005 as the owner of a small ISP in rural Maine. They also explore how the National Digital Equity Center uses a database and surveys to track the progress of their programs to ensure they are effective, having launched initiatives around distributed devices, skill building, and now involved with the Maine Digital Equity Plan.
That episode is 14 minutes long, which you can tune into here:
Susan Corbett Discusses Digital Equity in Maine and Nationally on Episode 5 of the Building for Digital Equity Podcast
Susan Corbett is the Executive Director of the National Digital Equity Center and has long been involved in policy around Internet access and digital equity both in Maine and across the United States. Susan and I chatted at Net Inclusion about how she got going in this space in 2005 as the owner of a small ISP in rural Maine.
We also discuss how they use a database and surveys to track the progress of their programs to ensure they are effective. They've worked on distributed devices, skill building, and more and are now involved with the Maine Digital Equity Plan.
Finally, we discuss some of the changes that Susan has seen over the years.
This show is 14 minutes long and can be played on this page or using the podcast app of your choice with this feed.
We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.
Listen to other episodes here or see other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.
Legislative changes and funding in Maine in the last year have made it easier for local communities to consider municipal broadband options. While incumbent providers have been pushing back, local communities are pulling themselves forward.
Setting the Stage
Spurred to action by inadequate high-speed Internet service as the pandemic besieged their communities, local officials and citizen volunteers in five rural Maine towns formed the Southwestern Waldo County Broadband Coalition (SWCBC) in an effort to bring ubiquitous and affordable broadband to its portion of Waldo County.
Two years later, the SWCBC is close to securing a major victory for local Internet choice in the face of a well-funded opposition campaign sweeping the Pine Tree State as the Big Telecom lobby and its allies try to undermine the very idea of publicly-owned, locally-controlled broadband networks in Maine and elsewhere.
The five SWCBC towns clustered about 30 miles east of Augusta – home to approximately 5,600 Mainers – are looking to create what is known as a Broadband Utility District (BUD). Four of those towns (Freedom, Liberty, Palermo, and Searsmont) recently voted in favor of establishing a BUD. Montville will be the last of the five towns to vote on whether to BUDdy up with the neighboring municipalities via an Interlocal Agreement (ILA). That vote is slated for August 23.
Similar to Communication Union Districts (CUDs) that the neighboring state of Vermont is relying on to deliver reliable and affordable broadband to its residents and businesses, Maine state law “allows towns to band together to form a community-owned organization, controlled by the municipality members but a legally separate organization - a regional non-profit utility. The BUD is allowed to incur debt that is separate from and not guaranteed by the municipalities.”
Sworn in earlier this month as president of the newly created Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA), Andrew Butcher says he is ready “to hit the ground running,” shepherding Maine’s efforts to bring universal access to high-speed Internet service in one of the most rural states in the nation.
The MCA, first proposed last year by Gov. Janet Mills and created through bipartisan legislation, will oversee the influx of federal funds the state has received from the American Rescue Plan Act and funds the state will get from the recently passed Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act.
The quasi-governmental agency will remain distinct from (but coordinate with) the ConnectMaine Authority, which administers the state’s broadband grant programs.
In a statement released after Butcher was sworn-in, Gov. Mills said:
I am grateful for the Senate’s unanimous confirmation, which is a testament to their confidence in Andrew’s experience and expertise to lead the Maine Connectivity Authority. With Andrew at the helm, and with the Authority’s Board fully in place, it is time to build on our work to expand access to affordable broadband. Broadband is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity for every person, every family, and every business across Maine, and with today’s vote, we are taking another step forward in our effort to make universal broadband a reality for Maine people.
For his part, Butcher said he was “humbled by (the) unanimous confirmation of the Senate and am honored for the opportunity to serve Maine as we look to build the infrastructure of the future. We can get there from here. Many have forged the path to get here and I'm eager to get to work connecting everyone.”
Getting ‘there from here’