LETTERS: Support broadband expansion

To the editor:

In the ‘90s, teachers and community volunteers ran wire in Maine’s local schools to connect our students to the world. Technology continued to grow rapidly, but our broadband expansion faltered. We connected our schools, but failed to light up our homes. The pandemic made the impact of this issue painfully acute, and it is an ongoing problem. Many students still can’t submit online assignments, they can’t collaborate on group projects, and they can’t benefit from digital resources offered by larger schools. Our schools have blazing fast internet, but it stops at the parking lot.

Affordable high speed internet access for remote learning, telemedicine, and working from home is still not available for everyone in Maine. And this is not unique to rural areas. I attend online meetings with people in Portland who have unreliable service.

But there is a chance for success. Across the state, even the smallest rural communities are finding ways to make high speed connectivity affordable and equitable. We should look to those regions as models to help us solve our connectivity challenges here in Somerset County. Our first goal should be to engage local communities so that we ensure that the unsolved issues of the last three decades are handled the right way.

A Broadband Planning Report for Somerset County with recommendations has already been completed. We have community leaders with the knowledge and skills to make this happen. Now we need local input. If your town wants to make broadband a priority, they should reach out to the county and ask how they can participate and voice their needs. They can also sign onto the Maine Broadband Coalition guiding values to mark their community as a hotspot for development. Let’s support this work and get connected!

Pamela Partridge
North Anson



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