It appears the ConnectME Authority, which has been Maine’s conduit for understanding and improving broadband for citizens since 2007, will be rolling up to the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) going forward. With funding sources for ConnectME drying up, the good news is that there may be some economic development dollars available to help deploy and improve broadband going forward. The economic benefits of broadband availability are well established, so this relationship makes sense.
Making investments that actually move the broadband needle on a micro basis need to continue, but the question remains - is there an appetite for state and/or federal government spending on a scale that will move the needle on a statewide macro level? If so how can that be done using a public/private model? As a successful open-access dark fiber leasing company, MFC shared some ideas on the topic in a response to the DECD’s recent RFI. The secret to public private partnerships is creating a commercial benefit while doing a broader public good. With an open mind and concerted effort the DECD and ConnectME Authority can pull that off for Maine.