PARIS — A partnership of local and regional organizations will hold a public meeting in from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 21 (snow date, March 28), in the forum at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, 256 Main St., to help mobilize citizen action to expand the accessibility and availability of broadband Internet in Oxford County. The meeting is the fourth in a series of workshops that are being held in the region.

Many innovative technologies require the faster connections that broadband offers. The bandwidth capacity and requirements for broadband will soon edge out traditional DSL networks, raising questions that will be discussed at the Oxford Hills meeting, such as, “What role should broadband play in the area’s future, and what is needed to ensure that we have greater and more reliable capacity for Internet traffic?”

Currently, Oxford County falls behind national and state averages for the number of homes and businesses with Internet service. Download and upload speeds are also below average for Maine and nationally.

The series of meetings will educate residents and businesses on the current situation with regard to Internet access and usage in Oxford County. The meetings seek input from residents and business owners on how existing service meets their needs and what role broadband should play in the area’s future.

The public meetings will help lay the foundation for a grant application aimed at providing funds to expand broadband availability and Internet accessibility in the Bethel area, River Valley and Oxford Hills.

The effort to expand broadband in Oxford County is being spearheaded by Community Concepts Finance Corp., in partnership with Maine West. Maine West is a collaboration of local and regional organizations dedicated to addressing systemic rural challenges and enhancing community well-being in western Maine across the economic, education, health and conservation sectors. Local partners include Community Concepts Finance Corp., Oxford County Wellness Collaborative, Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce, Mahoosuc Pathways, Bethel Area Nonprofit Collaborative, Mahoosuc Land Trust, University Centers at Rumford and Norway/South Paris, Androscoggin River Watershed Council, Bryant Pond 4-H Camp, and Western Foothills Land Trust.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: