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February 15, 2019

Maine to participate in update of national broadband availability map

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has chosen ConnectME as one of eight initial partner states to broaden and update the national broadband availability map.

Last year, Congress charged the administration with creating and maintaining the map as a searchable public database of information on broadband internet availability in the United States, according to a Feb. 13 Maine Department of Economic and Community Development news release.

The map has more than 25 million searchable records detailing where broadband service is available, the technology used to provide service, maximum available speeds and the names of service providers, among other information.

"This is a welcome announcement which will strengthen and expand ConnectME's efforts to improve broadband access for Maine families, businesses and communities statewide," Heather Johnson, Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner, said in the release. "Identifying gaps in high-speed internet coverage is the first step in ensuring every Mainer can access the tools they need to succeed and this in an important step in making that goal a reality."

Aside from Maine, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia will contribute data and input to improve the map.

The eight states were chosen because they reflect geographic diversity, participate in the administration's state broadband leaders network, have active state broadband plans or programs and were willing to contribute data that can be combined with nationwide data sources to give policymakers a deeper understanding of broadband availability, the release said.

The map is designed to provide a picture of the services and infrastructure that are available. The goal is to ensure all Americans have access to broadband, David Redl, the administration's assistant secretary for communications and information, said in the release.

The administration's work on an updated map, in partnership with the initial eight states, will help policymakers around the country make better decisions as they devise broadband expansion plans, he said.

The administration intends to seek participation from additional states. The initial map will include available nationwide data for every state in addition to the state-level data from the eight initial partner states.

According to its website, the ConnectME Authority is a public instrumentality of Maine state government whose mission is to facilitate the universal availability of broadband to all Maine households and businesses.

The mapping project comes as Maine seeks to address gaps in broadband availability around the state. Lack of broadband — cable, satellite, fiber, DSL — has been found to affect areas from real estate sales and tourism to in-and-out migration in rural areas across Maine, as well as impeding talent attraction to areas with lack of broadband connectivity.

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