Sen. Bellows: Reliable, high-speed internet is a necessity, not a luxury

Posted: January 19, 2017 | Senator Bellows

Sen. Bellows supports legislation to make broadband access universal in Maine

Sen. Bellows, left, and Rep. Higgins Thursday in the State House Hall of Flags for Broadband Day.

Sen. Bellows, left, and Rep. Higgins Thursday in the State House Hall of Flags for Broadband Day.

AUGUSTA — Sen. Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester, spoke Thursday during the annual “Broadband Day” at the State House, where she stressed the need for universal, reliable high-speed internet access in Maine.

Broadband Day is hosted by the ConnectME Authority and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. The event brings together legislators, providers and customers.

Sen. Bellows discussed her recent tour of eastern and northern Maine, where she met John Hafford, an entrepreneur who operates a high-profile design company in Millinocket, whose business is able to thrive and grow because of the availability of broadband Internet.

“Today, Maine faces two great challenges: The first is economic. We need to create sustainable jobs for Maine’s future. The second is demographic. Maine needs to attract and retain young people,” Sen. Bellows said. “Broadband is key to solving our demographic and economic challenges. High-speed, reliable internet supports our businesses by connecting them with markets all over the state, the nation and the world. And it supports young people who, like Mr. Hafford, want desperately to live in rural Maine but need broadband internet to start their business or work remotely.”

Sen. Bellows is the lead Senate co-sponsor of LD 140, a bill by Rep. Norman Higgins, R-Dover Foxcroft, that would authorize a $10 million bond to expand broadband service in Maine. Sen. Bellows is also sponsoring her own legislation to reduce barriers to private investment in the infrastructure necessary to make broadband accessible to every resident in the state.

“If we are bold, and invest in this critical infrastructure, we can grow our economy, create jobs, and help young people stay in Maine or move here,” Sen. Bellows said. “Those goals are shared by Democrats, Republicans and independents alike, and I look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers from across the political spectrum to bring reliable, high-speed internet access to every single Mainer.”