To the Editor:

Thanks to up to $500 million in federal and state funding, and the work my colleagues and I in Augusta did to advance access to high-speed internet for rural Mainers, we have a monumental opportunity to close the digital divide once and for all. Our leaders must prioritize solutions that bring broadband connectivity to communities still living without it and avoid proposals that will waste the finite funds we have or do little to address the factors driving our state’s internet divide.

According the Federal Communications Commission, 97 percent of Maine has access to high-speed internet. The remaining households are disproportionately in very rural areas that lack access to any high-speed infrastructure in large part because it is expensive and time consuming to build it. Historically, internet service providers have been reluctant to invest in high-speed internet infrastructure in these communities because the return on investment is so low, leaving rural folks behind. That’s why it’s critical that we focus our efforts on building infrastructure in communities that lack any.

Some leaders have advocated for upgrading existing networks or even building [duplicate] networks in communities that already have access to broadband in the hopes of spurring competition. Rural Mainers would once again get left behind. Governor Mills has stated her commitment to securing access to high-speed internet for every Mainer who wants it by 2024, making sure broadband funding prioritizes bringing internet infrastructure to the unserved and underserved folks in our state is a great way to do just that.

Rep. Scott Landry


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