AUGUSTA — Supporters of a bill that seeks to increase access to high-speed Internet in Maine say it’s crucial to help economies in rural communities to grow.

Assistant House Democratic Leader Sara Gideon of Freeport was joined by business leaders and others in Augusta on Tuesday to promote her bill that would provide more funding for cities and towns to develop broadband expansion plans.

Gideon says slow Internet speeds make it difficult for rural businesses to compete. She says that expanding broadband infrastructure will allow the state to finally cross the great “social and geographic divide” that exists between rural and urban Maine.

The bill is also being backed by Senate Republican Leader Garrett Mason, Assistant Democratic House Leader Dawn Hill and other legislative leaders.

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