AUGUSTA (AP) – Maine lags the nation as a whole for high-speed Internet, according to a new report. Twenty-one percent of Americans subscribe to high-speed Internet, compared to only 15 percent of Mainers, according to an eight-page paper by the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

The paper, “High Speed Internet: A Requisite Rural Development Strategy,” says one reason for Maine’s lower penetration rate is the difficulty in extending broadband telecommunications to the state’s remote areas. Another factor is the high cost, which is why many Mainers who have access to the Internet don’t subscribe.

The paper provides an overview of broadband technology, its value in rural development and initiatives to expand high-speed Internet across the state.

High-speed Internet will be necessary for growth in business, education and health care, and will be particularly important to rural economic development, said Ed Cervone, policy analyst for the center.

“High-speed Internet is a proven tool that will provide new opportunities for Maine businesses and residents,” Cervone said. “The benefits will undoubtedly outweigh the needed upfront costs.”

Cervone said two initiatives that are under way could help expand broadband connectivity in Maine.

The governor this month named the five members of the ConnectME Authority, which is charged with expanding availability of broadband Internet access and cell phone service in Maine.

A second initiative is studying how Maine municipalities can become their own Internet service providers in an effort to increase high-speed Internet access.


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