The pandemic has helped us all realize that high speed Internet is not a luxury, but rather a necessity for work, education, and staying connected with family. We have become aware of the inequities of access to broadband within our own communities. Some families can’t access it because of cost, and others because it’s not even available on their road, and others live with the under-powered internet they do have access to from cell providers or dial-up companies.
SAD 44 wants you to know what we are part of the efforts from multiple organizations to bring affordable broadband and high speed Internet to everyone in the region. With the help of the River Fund and the Maine Department of Education, last year and this year, we were able to provide wifi hotspots to students who had no Internet or under-powered internet at home. We are helping to collect data from families that will help the Maine Department of Education create a plan for bringing better internet to underserved regions.
We are also part of the Mahoosuc Broadband Committee, who are working on a mapping and data gathering project to create an accurate report of Internet availability in our region. The data gathering will include gathering Internet provider and government coverage maps, but will include a field audit, driving our roads to confirm accurate access data. The report findings will allow the Mahoosuc Broadband Committee and participating towns to pursue creative approaches and multiple funding sources to address Internet access. Towns participating include Albany, Bethel, Gilead, Greenwood, Newry, and Woodstock.
- Taking an Internet speed test at home will help the state collect accurate data about the quality of internet access - https://www.mainebroadbandcoalition.org/speedtesting-link
- You can check the map of Internet speeds in Maine - https://expressoptimizer.net/projects/Maine/speedtestmap.php
- There is an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Available to Eligible Families - https://mainedoenews.net/2021/03/23/media-release-emergency-broadband-benefit-program-available-to-eligible-families-in-april/
For more information about the Mahoosuc Broadband Committee’s work:
- Join the Mahoosuc Broadband Committee Facebook Page - https://www.facebook.com/groups/295377672095165
- Contact Mia Purcell - firstname.lastname@example.org