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Maine Telecommunications Education Access Fund
Advisory Board

Meeting Minutes for March 1, 2006

 

Members Present:    Phil Lindley, Joanne Steneck, Gary Nichols, Jeff Mao for Greg Scott, Greg Desjardin, Jeff Letourneau, Reginald Palmer, Scott Thibeau.

 

Members Absent:     Bill Black, Lance Bell

 

1)     Minutes from November 18, 2005, meeting were approved.

 

2)     Status of Connections.  Greg Desjardin provided an updated count of sites that receive Verizon transport: 189 installed standard 56 kbps connections, 500 installed T-1 connections, 91 installed ATM circuits that serve 141 sites, and 40 installed DSL sites.  The company is in the planning phase for the upgrade of all 56k sites as of 7/1/06.  Greg introduced Joe Weisenburger as his replacement on the Advisory Board.  Greg will continue to assist as needed.

 

3)     Status of Internet Service.  Jeff Letourneau stated that contracts had been awarded for high capacity bandwidth leaving the state.  These are for increased load and redundancy.  UNET has received routers for the 56k upgrades and his group is making site prep calls to individual sites to assess needs.

 

4)     & 5)  E-Rate Issues and Applications.  Gary Nichols said that there was a “heroic effort” to complete and file the 2006 application.  Joanne said that the participation package went out the 3rd week of December and that the application was filed on time.  There were many follow-up contacts and calls.  Linda Schatz provided details about the application: 62-64% discount; $2.5M reimbursement (internet and transport).  No changes will be allowed until July 1 to match the application.  The FY2004 BEAR was filed for $1.53M and the FY2005 application is in review.  Form 479 (CIPA certification) was missing for many sites and Sylvia will contact.

 

6)     Legislative Activity.  Phil Lindley reported on the status of the Governor’s “Connect Maine” initiative.  The proposed legislation will be funded from a surcharge on telephone bills, similar to the MTEAF and MUSF.  An authority will be formed to advance the implementation of broadband availability around Maine where it does not currently exist.  Stay tuned.

 

7)     Other: 

a)     Next Meeting – April 13, 2006, at 9:30am.  PUC Conference Room C.

 

b)     Jeff Mao discussed his upcoming appearance at a US Senate Committee hearing.  He will speak to the Commerce Committee on the impact of the E-Rate program in Maine, pointing out the educational technology enhancements that result from the E-Rate funded MSLN.

 

c)      Future Needs Assessment.  Joanne proposed that a subgroup be formed to assess and plan for the future needs of the MSLN sites.  It should be made up of users (schools and libraries) and outside experts, but should not contain current vendors or potential future bidders.

 

d)     Circuit Rider Report – To be discussed at the next meeting.