Letter to the editor: Maine’s connectivity depends on passage of Broadband as infrastructure bond

OTELCO has been providing rural phone service in Maine for more than 100 years. Our history is rooted in rural farmers taking infrastructure into their own hands at a time when phone lines were necessary, but lacking. Today’s challenge is delivering fast reliable Internet access to those same rural communities.

We are building Fiber to the Premise (FTTP) in our rural footprints as quickly as resources allow. Meanwhile, just like those farmers, forward-thinking municipalities are seeking ways to expedite the construction of fiber broadband. OTELCO is working with three communities in Penobscot County to develop collaborative funding models to help them get the connectivity infrastructure they need. In Alton, it took collaboration between the Town, OTELCO, and the ConnectME Authority to fund the $700,000 FTTP project that will serve everyone in town.

Governor Mills has asked the legislature to return for a special session on August 26th to address her revised bond package which includes $15 million for broadband infrastructure to be administered by the ConnectME Authority. With collaborative efforts like Alton, that $15 million could be quadrupled with matching municipal and private funds. That could build thousands of miles of FTTP in unserved areas of Maine.

Reliable access to broadband is critical to Maine’s economic future. Education, workforce development, aging in place, and local economies need broadband infrastructure as much as they need safe roads or electricity.

We urge all elected officials to vote for Maine’s economic future and support the broadband bond on August 26th.

Trevor Jones
VP of Sales, Marketing & Customer Service
OTELCO