Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Good News!

With all of the headlines focused on the budget crisis, it may be easy to miss some of the good news. In the last few months, Maine received a huge boost to our efforts to build our broadband infrastructure – a virtual superhighway that is quickly becoming the frontier of commerce. Linking our rural communities to the Internet is vital for the development of Maine’s economy and our future.

That’s why the $25.4 million award to the state from The National Telecommunications and Information Administration for GWI’s “Three Ring Binder” ( middle mile project is so important.

As the House chair of the Broadband Strategy Council (BBSC), I am very excited that the federal government has chosen to accept the council’s recommendations to fund the biggest of the four major broadband infrastructure projects the BBSC recommended.

This project is a public-private effort which will allow Maine telecommunications companies and vital Maine institutions to enhance broadband Internet access in rural Maine, and the end result will be high-speed Internet connections in more than 100 additional towns throughout the state.

The success of funding this much-needed project in Maine is the result of hard work and collaboration through a public-private partnership, which serves as a wonderful example of how the people of Maine can invest in their economic future, even when times are difficult.

To understand the terminology, a “last mile” project refers to the final leg of delivering connectivity from a communications provider to a customer. Any plan to provide that last mile of connectivity to a given area has to overcome the absence of what the telecom industry calls a “middle mile” connection to the Internet. The middle mile connection is similar to an electronic artery capable of carrying large volumes of information at high speeds to large geographic areas. In many areas of Maine, such digital arteries simply do not exist.

When the BBSC began its assessment process last summer, it measured each project against the overall goal of a secure and reliable telecommunications network that provides broadband access to unserved and underserved populations and regional areas. We put a special emphasis on projects that would foster economic development, create jobs and enhance the delivery of goods and services.

GWI’s “Three Ring Binder” project met all those criteria, as it will significantly improve the telecommunications infrastructure of our state and greatly enhance our ability to compete in the global economy.

Maine can put aside partisan differences and get good work done to help people and businesses prosper. This is good news!

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