High-Speed Internet for all Mainers Everywhere is Needed Now More Than Ever
It is no secret that the pandemic has shown how brittle Maine’s high-speed internet network and capacity is for many residents. Maine ranked 43rd out of 50 in access to broadband internet before the pandemic, and, if anything, COVID-19 has further stressed the limited and spotty network no matter where you live. Earlier this week, thousands of Spectrum customers in Maine lost their internet connection for more than two hours. While many of us might have felt the impact in our Netflix and Hulu streaming, there were additional impacts. Multiple city council meetings were postponed. Local restaurants were unable to process credit card transactions and many simply closed missing out on their usual customers. If you feel like our internet here in Maine is on thin ice, you aren’t alone.
All Mainers deserve access to reliable, high-speed internet, no matter their age or where they live. Last summer, more than 75% of Mainers voted yes on a $15 million dollar bond to fund high-speed internet expansion to underserved and unserved areas. But this is barely a drop in the bucket when it comes to what we need to expand high-speed broadband to communities all over Maine. The only way Maine will get back up to speed is with a coordinated effort from every sector of our economy.
One key piece of whether we’ll be able to expand high-speed internet lies with the legislature.
This session, Senator Rick Bennett (R-Oxford) is leading LD 1235, a bond of $100 million dollars to build out internet infrastructure across the state with a goal to reach 98% of Maine homes and businesses in rural areas within five years. High-speed internet is needed now more than ever.
What can you do? Now is the time to call and email your state legislators in Augusta to tell them to support LD 1235 and other bills that will get Maine up to speed, fast.
How do I contact my legislators? Click here to enter your address and find your legislators and their contact info.
What should I say to my legislators? Pick two to three bullet points below to encourage your legislator to get on board:
· Maine lags behind national broadband development and our rural communities are completely disconnected from a modern economy, leaving many of them behind.
· High speed, reliable internet is essential for any community, especially during the pandemic.
· Maine is the oldest state with a median age of 43.1. Affordable and reliable internet service helps older adult’s age-in-place productively and safely.
· A strong, connected high-speed internet brings more flexibility to Maine’s workforce and more opportunity to our businesses and entrepreneurs.
· A good broadband connection can decrease loneliness and depression, increase opportunities for furthering education, telehealth, and allow services such as free captioned telephone services for the hard of hearing and some life alert programs.
· I live in a small, rural town and I know I’m not alone. It is past time for Maine to invest in this vital component of infrastructure.
What is AARP Maine doing to engage Maine rural communities on this issue?
We are proud to work with 65 municipalities in Maine who have joined our Age-Friendly Network. Many of these communities are in the most rural parts of Maine. Connectivity is one issue that continually comes up in discussions with municipal leaders and Maine residents in these communities. By allocating funds to expand broadband access, Maine has the opportunity to increase internet access in homes and small businesses across Maine. It is past time for Maine to invest in this important component of infrastructure.
Does having access to high-speed internet impact you? Your business? Your family? Tell us how and send us a short email at email@example.com or call 1-866-554-5380.
Don't forget to take the test! The Maine Broadband Coalition "Get Up to Speed" test will help help define and advance broadband infrastructure improvement throughout Maine.
This story is provided by AARP Maine. Visit the AARP Maine page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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