The Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA) is designing a comprehensive program that will meet the State’s long-term connectivity needs, provide critical education and training, and connect everyone in Maine with affordable, reliable, and world-class internet. As of June 2022, more than 12% of the state lacks even basic internet service, and only 15% have access to true 21st-century internet service.
Broadband Intelligence Platform
MCA’s work relies on the further development and utilization of the Broadband Intelligence Platform (BIP). This data and mapping tool was initially developed by the ConnectMaine Authority and will continue to serve the MCA as it takes over the state’s data collection duties. The BIP facilitates the aggregation, visualization, and convergence of many data and map layers, resulting in the display of internet service and network technology availability near potential subscriber locations.
The Broadband Intelligence Platform will help the state make data-driven decisions, prioritize funding for rural, unserved areas, and maximize the impact of federal funds flowing to the state.
Why Is Data Collection Important?
In addition to the annual data filings required of the industry, MCA is preparing for the federal government's process for determining the total amount of funds available to the state of Maine under the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act or Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. Data sharing may be a prerequisite for eligibility for MCA funding.*
It is critical that we collect accurate data that will maximize the available funds awarded to the state. The award amount is highly dependent on the number of potential subscriber locations in unserved and underserved areas.
Step 1: ISP Data Collection
The MCA must aggregate large amounts of data to optimize the state’s broadband deployment. By effectively collecting, managing, and analyzing this information, we can meet these strategic goals:
Shift data collection from industry-only to collaborative engagement and crowdsourcing
Identify and communicate locations that are eligible for support
Prioritize investments for impact
Facilitate & manage partnerships and collaborations
Increase public awareness and knowledge
The MCA has assumed the responsibilities of the ConnectMaine Authority and will continue to engage with industry partners to collect more refined data about existing and proposed networks. This additional information will also be used in the development of the Broadband Intelligence Platform ahead of the fall application window for infrastructure grants.
Data can be submitted to the MCA during the same time as the FCC Broadband Data Collection (June 30, 2021, to September 1, 2022) using the same format.
The MCA will also collect location-specific pricing information to assist with the state’s application for federal funds under the Capital Projects Fund and the Broadband Equity, Access & Deployment program. The parameters of the challenge processes are still being developed and communicated by federal agencies and will rely on the data collected by the MCA.
The data submissions are considered confidential under ConnectMaine statute and rule, and are emphasized in the contract with MCA to carry out this statutory duty. Data will remain confidential even in the possession of MCA. This has been confirmed by the Assistant Attorney General to ConnectMaine and MCA.
Resources & Links:
FCC Page for ISPs & Other filers (with instructions on accessing the BDC and FCC 477 sites)
BDC User Guide (updated since May)
Step 2: Feedback Opportunities
During the summer of 2022, the MCA will engage industry and community leaders to gather feedback on the data that would inform participation in MCA programming. We will also seek information from potential applicants regarding locations that proposed projects could serve.
The FCC has shared that it will only consider broadband service availability data collected “as of June 30,” so communities must continue participating in the Maine speed testing initiative located here!
Resources & Links:
Step 3: Public Map Viewer
The Maine Connectivity Authority will publish public maps based on the Broadband Intelligence Platform ahead of the next application window and through the end of the year. These maps will help our state and federal governments determine locations eligible for support, and direct the location and scope of potential future projects.
Once available, community leaders can support the understanding of broadband availability by filing additional local data that will increase the utility of the BIP. The development of BIP and public maps will continue later this fall and winter, expanding from mapping broadband service availability to showing digital equity gaps and resources.
* MCA will reserve the right for determining funding eligibility.