Maine Receives $3.2 Million in Broadband Stimulus Funding September 28, 2010
The Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today announced nearly $3.2 million in supplemental grant funding to the ConnectME Authority to fund further projects under the NTIA State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program.
$1.7 million in supplemental NTIA grant funding will be for broadband data collection in Maine by the James. W. Sewall company and other interested stakeholders for years three, four and five of the project (1/1/2012 – 12/31/2014). This amount includes funding for leading practices and address file development. The project will continue to utilize service provider address data and the state's substantial investment in E911 roads data. ConnectME proposes to use the sophisticated addressing of Maine's E911 roads data to correctly place current broadband customers.
The original State Broadband Data Development Grant, allocated $1.3 million in January of this year, for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and nearly $440,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period, bringing the total grant award to nearly $1.8 million. The Authority awarded James W. Sewall Company of Old Town, Maine, a three-year contract to map broadband service availability for the entire state and a five year contract for planning activities. James W. Sewall is teaming with Packard Judd Kaye Strategic Marketing Group, broadband expert Jeff Latourneau, Executive Director of Netowrkmaine, and Todd Gabe, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Maine, to form the Sewall planning team.
$876,492 will be allocated for state broadband capacity building. For this project the Authority will partner with and allocate funding to the Maine State Planning Office (SPO) to administer the broadband capacity building project. The SPO will convene a Broadband Capacity Building Task Force and manage the creation and implementation of a Broadband Capacity Building Plan throughout the state. The Broadband Capacity Building Task Force and SPO staff will utilize the statistics and demographics collected through the planning portion of the State Broadband Data and Development Program to determine focus areas for the broadband capacity building project. The two initiatives will work together with the planning project providing data and information to the broadband capacity building project.
ConnectME will receive $764,040 thousand for a statewide technical assistance program. ConnectME, in collaboration with the Maine Department of Education (DOE) Adult and Community Education Program, proposes to provide Maine citizens across the state the technical assistance and training necessary to fully utilize the broadband capacity now available or being planned and deployed. The Maine Department of Education, with the cooperation of the state’s one hundred and nine community-based adult education programs, is uniquely qualified to assume this role. Adult education serves every corner of the state with educators skilled in working with adult learners, attuned to the special needs and learning styles of its customers. The broadband technical assistance project will increase outreach to our most in need adults bolstering their confidence to use Maine’s growing digital infrastructure to achieve social and economic benefits.
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.
The planning project, broadband capacity building project and the technical assistance project will utilize the data collected by the mapping and inventory project to provide benchmark 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.
The ConnectME Authority was established by the State of Maine legislature to stimulate investment in advanced communications technology infrastructure in unserved areas of the State so as to enhance economic development, healthcare, education, tourism, public health and safety, and government efficiency. ConnectME’s mapping project brings together a coalition of organizations with a wide breadth of broadband and mapping experience, including the Maine Public Utilities Commission, the Maine Office of GIS, the Broadband Strategy Council, and Sewall. For more information, visit the ConnectME Authorityweb site.
For more information contact Phil Lindley, Executive Director, ConnectME Authority at 207-624-9970 or email@example.com.