Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: Vote to expand broadband access

Question number one on Maine’s July 14th ballot will ask voters for their support of broadband expansion in rural Maine.

Although most sectors of the economy have not done well during this crisis, there is one that has. Digital is the big winner. Expanding the digital transformation is essential to making sure that people and communities are not left out as we begin the recovery process.

There are three main areas that digital access will positively impact.

The first is the economy. With adequate internet access employees can work from home. Businesses can reach out to their customers, promote products, or interface with suppliers.

LL Bean, is an example of an employer who recently closed their satellite offices in the Peck building in Lewiston, not because they intended to terminate those jobs, but because they can save overhead by having their customer service employees work from home. If an employee’s home has high speed internet, they can work from anywhere.

Secondly, an expansion of broadband service can help ensure that the students who live in rural Maine will have the same educational opportunities as those in more urban parts of the state. While urban communities were able to continue to hold regular classes via zoom, many in rural Maine were not. With neither broadband internet or cell phone service, even a hot spot would not have made a difference. As a result, some rural schools had little recourse but to provide packets of materials. But, they were not able to provide the personal instruction that is essential to student progress.

Third, telemedicine can bring medical specialists to anyone with an adequate internet connection. Although in person visits with patients will always be preferred, much can be assessed visually long distance, and digital data including vital signs, oxygen levels, CPAP use, blood pressure and even EKGs can be transmitted with the proper interface. This option is essential when visits to medical facilities carry their own risk.

Funding from this bond issue will be matched by federal funds and investments made by local communities. Those investments will assure that our communities are not left behind as we recover from Covid-19.

Please join me in voting yes on question 1 on July 14th.

Jan Collins

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3 Responses »

  1. No. Won't be voting to spend local, state or grant grabbing federal tax dollars for urban amenities deep in the heart of the Maine woods. You want urban, live there. You want Maine woods, adapt, improvise and overcome. You know, agriculture, making useful items that everyone needs, the area prospered for a century using local resources to provide for the local economy.
    The digital age ruined this for keeping young people in Maine. We actually educated the kiddos well enough to leave home, survive and thrive after grade twelve. We cannot afford this 'progress'.

  2. I can’t wait for improved broadband here in Strong since my translation business relies on the internet. I often have to do a lot of internet research and have to download huge amounts of data. At present my output rate is reduced because of the slowness. I can only imagine the impact on other businesses here. It’s not a question of urban versus local. I love living here and I want to contribute to the local economy by using the skills that I have here in this lovely place. The only way our children are going to return here is to either carry on the great skills of their forefathers or to engage in businesses that rely on the internet. We need all of us.

  3. I can’t wait for improved broadband. I have a translation business in Strong that relies on the internet and my output is reduced due to the slowness. It’s not a choice between urban and rural. We’re all needed - those who carry on the great skills of their forefathers in the woods and those who also want to contribute to the local economy with their particular digital-reliant skills. We’re all in this together.