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Broadband Planning Project
In April the ConnectME Authority issued a request for proposal (RFP) to develop and conduct a statewide comprehensive planning project.The RFP resulted in a contract with Sewall which is teaming with Packard Judd Kaye Strategic Marketing Group; broadband expert Jeff Latourneau, Executive Director of Networkmaine; and Todd Gabe, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Maine, to form the Sewall planning team.
A major concern of the Authority beyond the simple availability of broadband service is the low take-rate or adoption and subscribership to available broadband services. Maine’s average adoption rate is significantly lower than the national average. Factors contributing to a lower than average adoption rate are socio-economic, low income consumers cannot afford the computer or the cost of subscribing to broadband service; lower education level, consumers are not aware of the services available online; and many consumers do not see value in being online. Increasing the adoption rate for broadband services changes the economic “tipping point” for investment by service providers.
This project provides benchmarking of uses of broadband, the benefits, the drivers for greater adoption of broadband and the barriers to adoption focused on household and on business establishments in Maine. One particular focus, although not exclusive to the focus area, will be on the telemedicine industry sector.
Methods utilized for tracking the impact of broadband over time with households and industry sectors are a major factor. Results will be tracked by industry as well as the demographic parameters. The capability of technically integrating the results into the existing mapping project should be a very powerful tool for long-term development of Maine’s broadband needs.
The 2010 Pew Bringing America Up To Speed, State’s Role in Expanding Broadband study found that the more the states use the planning grants to help them develop their long-range visions for broadband deployment and usage, the better positioned they will be to achieve their goals.
In June of 2011 the Developing Broadband in Maine: Needs Assessment Volume I (PDF 42 mb) was released. This Needs Assessment is one deliverable in the ConnectME Authority's Broadband Planning Project. It establishes a baseline measure of broadband availability and use in Maine, and identifies barriers to the adoption of broadband technologies throughout the State. It will be used to plan the Authority's strategies for increasing broadband awareness and uptake, and to provide the baseline against which such implemented strategies can be evaluated.