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January 8, 2014 | last updated January 8, 2014 11:11 am

Group assesses Maine's 49th-place broadband rank

An analysis of the availability of top Internet speeds and access to them in the United States puts Maine behind only Montana and far behind the rest of New England.

The Portland Press Herald reported that the analysis has provided a backdrop for the Maine Technology Users Group, which is meeting today in South Portland to assess the state of high-speed Internet access in the state and steps to improve it. Backers of those efforts say improving broadband quality and access will boost the state's economy.

The latest data from Ookla's Net Index, for December 2013, shows Maine's average download speed of 13.4 megabits per second lagging the national average of 20.8 megabits per second. The Press Herald reported that an earlier survey found most Maine counties offer top download speeds between 7.3 to 10.9 megabits per second, behind a Boston-area range of 21.8 to 25.5 megabits per second.

In December, a state task force delivered a series of recommendations for expanding and improving broadband service in the state -- estimating that in doing so Maine could create 11,000 jobs and $70 million in new state revenue.

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