General Questions about Broadband and Getting Broadband

FAQs about Cost, Security, and the Value of Broadband

What is broadband? What is an ISP? BSP? Cable modem?
To find plain-English definitions of technical terms associated with broadband telecommunications, go here.

How do I find out the upload and download speed of my internet connection?
Take the Speed Test to find out how quickly you can send and receive information.

How come the upload and download speeds are never the same each time I take the Speed Test?
Factors that affect speed include the kind of broadband service you have, the time of day, and the number of people using internet devices in your home or neighborhood.

What kind of upload and download speeds do I need to, say, have a real-time video conference call or use a phone service via the internet like Skype?
Consult the Broadband Speeds and Applications Chart

How can we get faster speeds to meet our needs?
Contact your provider to discuss your need for more speed, which most providers offer for a higher fee. It is also important for you and your provider to determine that there are no existing problems with hardware causing slower than normal up- and downloads, and that there are no issues inside the home/business that could be causing issues.

How do I get a provider to come and serve my house?
Every Maine internet service provider has contact phone numbers for new service questions.

I can see the line passing my house but they won't bring me service. What can I do?
That line may be a transmission line, not a broadband line for home use. It could be carrying dedicated network traffic between provider locations, not for "service to the home" use.

Contact the provider to discuss your needs. You can ask the provider what options may be at your disposal. If they are unable to bring a line to your house, they or another provider working in the territory may be able to use a different technology, such as wireless, to meet your needs.

The service provider quoted thousands of dollars to bring service to my home. Can ConnectME help?
Funding is available for projects that bring broadband to unserved households. Contact us at ConnectME@maine.gov or 207-592-0668 for more information.

We have a group of residents who will buy service from a provider, but our local provider will not consider our interest. Is there an alternative?
Contact us to see if there are other providers who can serve your area, as it is entirely possible another provider would like to serve your needs.

Your map shows that I have service, but I do not. What do I do?
There may be a provider covering your area you are not aware of. To find out what providers supply what kinds of broadband service to your address, enter your street address in the box on the upper right of the Broadband Availability Application page.

Although we are in an underserved area, we do not qualify for a ConnectME grant since we do have "service"—at 3 Mbps, which is too slow for our needs. How can we get better service?
Check with other providers who may offer different types of service at higher speeds—and probably cost. At this time, due to our limited resources, we are obligated to assist "unserved" areas before focusing on underserved. Contact us to discuss your specific needs.

Only sections of our town are unserved. Do you grant money on a road by road basis?
Yes, we have granted funds in the past that list unserved areas by street name.

Where can we find help in filling out a ConnectME grant application?
First, read through the Overview of the Grant Process and Grant Application Toolkit with Sample Documents, where you may find many answers to common questions and sample documents to guide you. If you still have questions, please Contact Us.

By what date are grant applications due each year?
ConnectME Grants are not disbursed on a calendar year basis. Sign up for the ConnectME newsletter, and we will add you to future notifications of grant rounds.

I know that ConnectME grants are supposed to be used along with other money paying some percentage of the total cost per household for broadband access. Is this percentage capped and who pays the rest?
Ideally we fund 50% of any project with flexibility to fund higher levels on a case by case basis. In 2012, 23 projects were funded for $2 million, with ConnectME covering fully 66% of total project costs. Grants ranged from $11.5 thousand in Amity for 25 households to $124 thousand in East Machias for 96 households to $280 thousand in Sweden for 240 households. See Awarded Grants for more details on how this has taken place in the past.

Before we go through the trouble and expense of preparing the grant application, is there any way to tell if we have a good chance of getting the help?
Check with the provider you're partnering with. They will be familiar with our process and can provide advice. You can also Contact Us to talk with ConnectME staff about your project ideas.

How do we find an internet service provider or broadband service provider to work with us?
Visit the Broadband Availability Application and enter your address at the top right and click "go!" Wait a moment, then click "Results" at the top left corner of the page. You can also call ConnectME staff to discuss provider options in your area.

What if there is no service provider in our area?
This means you reside in an unserved area. There may be providers willing to assist with a project in your area. Contact Us for more information.

Who can receive ConnectME grants?
General-purpose local governments (municipalities and counties), local government authorities, and joint or multi-county development authorities, private for-profit companies that provide broadband, and any other responsible entity or group determined by the Authority to be capable of installing, using, and managing advanced communications technology infrastructure in the area.

Where can we find a map to consult to see if we live in an underserved area eligible for ConnectME grants?
Visit this website: http://mapservergeo.maine.gov/broadband/index.html. Enter your street address and town in the upper right and click "Go". Wait for the page to load, then click "Results" in the upper right. A list of providers to that address will appear in the box on the right and a map of what provider's service serves your and surrounding areas on the left.

I seem to function perfectly well in life without broadband. Why would I take the plunge? What can broadband do for me?
Using broadband can open the world to many users. It provides access to a wide range of resources, services, and products which can enhance life in a variety of ways. Broadband can help overcome geographical, financial and physical barriers to provide you with access to educational, cultural, recreational, and opportunities and resources in daily life. Broadband has significant health care applications, allowing for remote diagnosis, treatment, monitoring, and consultation. It can also help you streamline interaction with government agencies, giving you a broader knowledge and awareness of policies, programs, and services.

I understand people who file income tax returns electronically get a refund faster than those who file conventionally. Is that true?
In 2011, 3 out of 4 Mainers filed their taxes online. Those due returns received them within 5 business days as opposed to the average of three weeks it took those filing paper returns to receive their refunds.

My doctor told me I can access my medical records "online." Can other people see my medical records?
When you and your doctor have electronic access to your medical records online, this can mean better medical care. First, it allows your record to be comprehensive and centralized with all information from all providers in one place. Should you, for example, be traveling away from home and require medical attention, a provider can review your history to determine the most appropriate care for your situation. You, as an individual, can access your own records to check information, verify accuracy, and even make a copy to take with you while you travel. In terms of security, advanced systems today have levels of security safeguards for electronic medical records which very likely surpass the security provided for more traditional paper records.

My financial institution is promoting "online banking." I like interacting with a teller. Why should I sign up to bank online?
Online banking gives you access to your accounts around the clock. Depending on the financial institution, you can generally obtain balance information, transfer funds between accounts, pay bills, and perform other transactions without having to visit your financial institution. Online banking needn't replace going to the bank, but it is a handy supplement when you are unable to visit your institution or during times when it is closed.

How do I know that the provider in my area is giving me the best possible deal for service?
As with many services, comparing provider offerings is wise. In some areas, there may be only one provider while in others, the choices may be more numerous. Whether or not there are multiple providers, there are likely several levels of service. The provider can guide you best in how to meet your needs; and, if none of the packages offered is what you are seeking, don't hesitate to ask for something specific to your situation.

How do I know what I need/want for service?
Your service provider can assist you in determining how best to meet your needs. They will ask you how you use or intend to use broadband. Enter your street address and town on the Broadband Availability Application web page for provider and service information in your region.

I'm certain that strangers can see e-mail, financial transactions, and other information about me. How can I be sure my personal information is secure?
While it is true that "hacking"—unauthorized people viewing material stored on your computer or information about you stored on the systems of others—can and does occur, it is rare and there are several things you can do to prevent it. Government agencies, and medical and banking entities go to great lengths to ensure sufficient safeguards are in place. Check their privacy policies for specific details and ask questions. At home, you can bolster the security of your computer by using strong passwords and changing them frequently, using antivirus software from companies like Norton and Kaspersky.

Can I afford broadband?
Rates are generally competitive, even in locations where there is no real competition among providers. A locator tool of Maine internet service providers is here. Enter your address and town, wait for a moment, and a list of providers will appear on the right side of the page. Visit provider websites to find the best deals, which often involve bundes of services including cable television and telephone service. Be aware that most such contracts come with minimum service agreements of one year or more.