Telecommuting has almost become a way of life for some of us in the past weeks. Mother Nature has been seeing to that. In fact, when I began writing this post, I was working from my home office since the OTELCO New England offices were closed on Monday due to the expected blizzard conditions. Operationally, a skeleton screw of customer care staff was able to monitor incoming customer calls and address those that needed immediate attention, and technical support staff could respond to calls remotely and, in many cases, address the problem.
While I was working on this post, my husband was sitting at his desk, across the room, working remotely and conducting a video conference with participants all over the country.
Although municipalities across New England were closed for the storm, many of us could still conduct business including vehicle registration, paying our taxes, and more.
Even our friends at MaineBiz Magazine kept the news coming, with several reporting from their own homes. Speaking of our friends at MaineBiz, we will be sponsoring the MaineBiz On the Road Portland event. We’d love for you to be our guest for the event on March 16th. RSVP here and we’ll make sure there’s a complimentary drink waiting for you.
Whether for telecommuting and working remotely, or for consumers to have access to essential services and commerce, Internet connectivity was the key to keeping the wheels of business turning during a storm that closed down many parts of New England. Those of us who have such connectivity consider ourselves lucky, and that’s a problem.
Access to Internet Connectivity Should NOT Be a Matter of Luck.
Sadly, in rural communities in New England and across the country IT IS, and therefore hinders economic growth in the places that need it most.
In Maine alone, there are more than 15 pieces of legislation taking shape to address the issue of rural Internet access, and at the federal level, congress is discussing a $20 billion broadband infrastructure stimulus package. The New Deal Rural Broadband Act of 2017 is based on FDR’s Rural Electrification Act of 1936. History repeats itself once more, you’ll know what I mean if you read last week’s post.
With all these wheels turning in the same direction, it’s important that federal, state, and local legislators work to develop comprehensive legislation that is equitable to rural communities, consumers, and providers. Whether you’re Internet ‘lucky’ or not, this is a critical issue for Maine’s economy, and worthy of our attention.