Governor-elect Janet Mills joined members of the business community and Portland city officials Thursday to celebrate the launch of high-speed internet to 650,000 homes and businesses around the state, including parts of rural Maine.
Mills says too many Maine families and small businesses have been left in the dark to grapple with slow or inaccessible internet, and that problem has been a barrier to success. It means, for example, that a student can't complete a homework assignment, or that a company can't expand or chooses to locate in another state. Mills says Spectrum's investment in broadband infrastructure represents a significant step forward.
"With the availability of faster internet speeds, especially in rural areas of Maine, we can open the state's doors to future business investment,” says Mills. “We can expand educational opportunities, we can expand telehealth and we can attract more people to live and work here and raise their families here, one of the highest priorities we can have."
Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, says that Spectrum's investment in broadband infrastructure sends a positive message.
"To make that type of investment, they have confidence in the state of Maine,” says Connors. “They're committed to the lives and livelihood of Maine's people, Maine's businesses and to the economic growth of our state."
Eight years ago, in a survey of nearly 1200 Maine businesses, broadband was not reflected in their top dozen priorities. But things have changed. Connors says when the survey was taken again recently, it came in at number three. Mills says improving digital literacy has to be part of the equation, too.
“If you asked me five years ago what a gigabit was, I'd have said it was one of those General Mills products, you know? Have some Gigabits Cereal with your bananas and milk in the morning!” she says. “But here we are on the verge of huge progress for our state, I'm so delighted."
Originally published Dec. 20,2018 at 3:23 p.m. ET.