Broadband news for consumers
ConnectME Broadband Grants
The second round of the ConnectME Authority grant program to expand Mainers’ access to broadband service received applications last July.
"The ConnectME initiative is spurring private investment in broadband and cellular service in Maine. These investments are enabling people in rural areas to have enhanced access to technology, transforming our state economy, and expanding business opportunities for more Mainers," said Governor Baldacci.
The first round of grants awarded last year funded broadband service to more than fifty unserved communities, representing 14,400 households and businesses.
Eligible applicants were municipalities, co-ops, community groups, and broadband service providers. According to a recent Brookings Institution Report, for every one percentage point increase in broadband penetration in a state, employment is projected to increase by 0.2 to 0.3 percent per year.
FairPoint continues to expand broadband and create jobs
FairPoint has added 63 new jobs in Bangor and 57 in Portland at its local consumer and small-business customer call center since acquiring Verizon’s landline business in Northern New England.
"FairPoint is committed to growing employment and to helping families and business by expanding broadband in Maine," said Governor Baldacci. "FairPoint’s broadband network growth is critical to growing our economic base, improving our educational system, enhancing our delivery of health care and providing job opportunities."
In the global economy, broadband is making it possible for people to relocate to Maine and set up businesses anywhere they wish. With Maine’s broadband network expanding, more businesses will be attracted to the state, as they are looking for locations that have a quality of life with dedicated, hard workers.
"We want to be economic development partners," said Gene Johnson, Fairpoint’s CEO. Johnson estimated that FairPoint’s payroll contributes about $19 million a year to Maine’s economy, and has a ripple effect on other local businesses of more than $33 million.
"FairPoint has stepped up to the plate to offer its resources to partner with local groups in support of economic development," said Baldacci. "I am pleased to hear Gene mention that FairPoint wants to play an active role in Maine, providing jobs, partnering to support economic development, contributing and sponsoring local nonprofit organizations, buying products and services from Maine companies, and truly putting down roots in our State."
FairPoint announced a hiring goal of 280 new positions in Maine last year. FairPoint has met its original hiring goal in Maine and now plans to hire more people. The company said that the goal is now approximately 400 new positions in Maine when it completes its hiring plans.