Dec 21, 2022
Commentary: To secure the right federal funds for broadband, Maine needs the right mapping
Recently released federal broadband maps still miss some spots. The Maine Connectivity Authority's new tool allows members of the public to check if their home, camp or business is accurately recorded.
Expanding reliable, high-speed internet to every community in Maine is a daunting and far-reaching goal.
When we think about it, our first thoughts are often about technology – the splicing of fiber optic lines and utility poles connecting to homes and businesses.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew Butcher is the president of the Maine Connectivity Authority.
But when the Maine Connectivity Authority was established in 2021 as the one-stop shop to help every community in our state to get connected to broadband, it was clear that our mission isn’t about wires and polls.
It’s about people: the small businesses that need broadband to reach their customers and be successful; the seniors who benefit from telehealth because it’s hard for them to travel; for students who can have the world at their fingertips. It’s about connecting people and places so nobody is left behind because they don’t have access reliable, affordable internet service.
The job is huge, and we need your help if we’re going to accomplish our mission.
Recently, the Federal Communications Commission released new maps of where broadband is available in Maine. The maps are much improved over earlier versions, but there are still lots of mistakes, and we only have until Jan. 13 to get the next version more correct before future infrastructure funds are allocated.
Sometimes the maps have missed houses, camps and businesses. And sometimes they don’t correctly identify the services options available.
This is where you come in. We need your help to “Correct the Dots,” our campaign to encourage Maine people to check out the maps and file challenges to correct any errors. The new maps can be found here: maineconnectivity.org/challenge.
In just a few minutes, you can enter the address of you home, camp or business and see if the federal government has the information right. And if they don’t, you can click the challenge button and get it fixed.
Two types of challenges can be filed. The first is to correct inaccurate information about the type of service at your home, camp or business. The second is to challenge whether reliable broadband is available at that particular location.
The deadline for filing a challenge is Jan. 13. So there’s not much time.
It’s important that the broadband maps are as accurate as possible. They help us to determine what areas of the state are underserved and unserved by broadband, and they give us a better understanding of what types of service are available where.
They also will be used to help determine the amount of federal support Maine will get to expand access to broadband and where that money will go.
Maine is on the cusp of the most ambitious federal investment in broadband ever. Millions of dollars will be directed to states as part of the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act.
By making sure your information is correct, you can help to ensure Maine receives its fair share of funding, which translates into better internet, sooner for people who don’t have access today.
That’s good for our economy and for jobs. But most importantly, it’s good for people like you who need reliable, high-speed internet for their business, their kids or their health.
Help us help all of Maine get connected.