WATERVILLE – On May 31, 2018, the Maine Broadband Coalition will host the 2018 Maine Broadband Coalition Conference from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Thomas College in Waterville. During this statewide broadband conference, Maine communities and national experts will share lessons learned to date, look at new ways for solving shared challenges, and identify what’s next for broadband funding and policy in Maine.
The conference will feature a special afternoon keynote by U.S. Senator Angus King, who will share his perspective as one of the leading members of the U.S. Senate focused on bringing broadband to rural America. Additional speaker presentations and panel discussions will highlight perspectives, best practices from the past two years of broadband planning efforts and community implementation, and the next frontier of policy issues that need to be addressed to help ensure all Mainers are connected through high speed, reliable internet.
“As communities in Maine figure out how to get better connected, it’s clear to us that Maine needs new business models in order to bring internet connectivity to most parts of the state,” said Peggy Schaffer, small business advocate for the Maine Department of the Secretary of State and one of the conference organizers. “The Maine Broadband Coalition is excited about bringing together national experts as well as local successes, so we can learn from each other about how to connect more of Maine. Maine has a unique opportunity to think outside the box on how we fix this problem, and this conference will highlight a great mix of ideas to help us do just that.”
Municipal and community leaders, as well as broadband industry representatives, are invited to join the Maine Broadband Coalition for this daylong event. Industry presenters will include Jeff Christensen, president of EntryPoint Networks; Heather Johnson, executive director of the ConnectME Authority; Chris Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self Reliance; and Jase Wilson, CEO of Neighborly. In addition, some of the communities represented at the conference will include those who have undergone a community planning process – Oxford County, Franklin County, and the City of Belfast – as well those who have built or are starting the buildout process – Our Katahdin, Calais and Baileyville, and the Cranberry Isles.
“The next two to three years is the critical timeframe for Maine to make significant investments in broadband infrastructure,” said Nick Battista, policy officer at the Island Institute. “Communities are working with businesses to take the lead on making investments in their future, and government programs need to be supporting these efforts not hindering them. Maine gives seventh graders laptops or iPads, not typewriters. Maine communities need broadband to keep up.”
The Maine Broadband Coalition Conference is being organized by the Maine Secretary of State’s Office, CEI, GrowSmart Maine, and the Island Institute. Sponsors include GWI, OTELCO, Island Institute, ConnectME, Axiom Technologies, and the Unity Foundation.
For more information, contact Nick Battista with the Island Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Peggy Schaffer, Small Business Advocate with the Office of the Secretary of State at Peggy.Schaffer@maine.gov.