During last month’s Special Legislative Session we witnessed a systemic failure in our political system to make a necessary investment in Maine’s future. The Legislature’s inability to secure a 2/3 majority to approve a $15M bond for providing high-speed internet access to all Mainers- no matter where you live - is a failure that should not be acceptable in a modern economy.
While it might be easy to chalk up the lack of action to purely politics - the reality
is that fewer than 2/3rds our state representatives don’t understand that investments in broadband infrastructure are as critical to our economy and quality of life as our roads and bridges. High-speed internet enables our law enforcement to protect our communities; our small businesses to thrive and create new jobs; our parents to age in place and visit their doctor with out a long drive; and our children to do their homework without sitting in-front of a closed library.
We need to double down our efforts of mobilizing every community in the state to demand equal access to opportunity, health, and safety through expanding investments in broadband infrastructure. All of us - especially community broadband advocates represented via the Maine Broadband Coalition need to ensure that our voice is heard and our needs honored.
We can draw inspiration from our partners like Charlie Woodworth at The Greater Franklin Development Corporation whom have spent the last several years assembling and stacking a comprehensive community plan with buy in and participation at all levels. Or from the work facilitated by Maine West fusing digital literacy and infrastructure expansion over a vast geographic area. These are just a few examples of communities around the state that are doing inspiring work around a complex and nuanced issue.
Where there is failure - there is also opportunity. That opportunity is to build from the strengths of Coalition partners to demonstrate - demand - and develop the modern broadband infrastructure that Maine residents, businesses and institutions deserve. This is an opportunity to broaden our coalition and build connections with other groups of people for whom broadband would provide significant benefits. It is more important than ever that we use this recent setback as a springboard toward getting the resources necessary to provide reliable, affordable high-speed internet to every community in Maine.
Let’s not be derailed by this temporary, short-sighted, delay in investing in our broadband infrastructure that perpetuates an unnecessary digital divide. It is now more important than ever Maine Broadband Coalition continue to serve as a resource for communities around the state in making their voice heard.
Join us on October 28th and 29th in Waterville at the annual Broadband Summit to ensure how we won’t fail..
Please also review our newly revamped website @ www.mainebroadbandcoalition.org - check out the new library of resources AND please be sure to register on the “Members” page.