Maine’s slow Internet stands between you, jobs and kittens dancing to tuba music

How fast are Internet speeds in Maine?

I’ll wait while the rest of this page loads. Ready? OK.

An internet service provider called Broadview Networks published a national map earlier this week that shows Maine in general has some of the slowest Internet speeds in the country and is at the bottom of the pack in New England.

Source: Broadview Networks

Source: Broadview Networks

Broadview, a national provider of cloud-based and other digital services, based its analysis on Akamai’s ‘State of the Internet’ report. It found that Maine ranks 37th in the country with an average speed of 8.7 megabits per second (Mbps). That’s actually a pretty rosy assessment compared to some other rankings, but more on that below.

At the top of Broadview’s list was Virginia, Delaware and Massachusetts, each sporting speeds in excess of 13 Mbps. At the bottom are Montana, Kentucky, Arkansas and Alaska, each with averages of 7.3 Mbps or lower.

I’d take any of the speeds on that spectrum. The DSL connection here in my office at the State House complex is 4.7 Mbps for downloads and 2.26 Mbps for uploads, according to www.speedtest.net.

But anyway, why does it matter and why are you reading about this in a political blog?

First, you don’t want another solitary second standing between you and cute kitty videos set to tuba music.

Perhaps even more importantly, Internet speed has long been seen as a crucial economic development issue and Maine’s antiquated infrastructure puts us at a disadvantage when businesses are looking to relocate or when the businesses already here are trying to compete in an increasingly global economy. The 2013 Maine Broadband Task Force hammered that point home.

Fletcher Kittredge, CEO of GWI, a major Internet service provider in Maine, said in a recent position paper that “every advance in telecommunications effectively shrinks distances, allows rural areas to participate more fully in the economy and lowers costs of delivering services. Upgrading Maine’s Internet infrastructure is a way of reducing the ‘rural tax’ and makes it possible for Maine to exceed rather than trail the national average for economic growth.”

The ConnectME Authority, which is an arm of state government, estimates that 35,000 Maine households are still without broadband access. The state agency announced recently that it will award up to $1 million in grants this year aimed specifically at connecting more homes and businesses to a blazing fast new Internet backbone that to date is underutilized.

Source: www.randomfunnypicture.com

Source: www.randomfunnypicture.com

Two years ago, Maine Fiber Co. completed a 1,100 mile fiber optic cable known as the “Three Ring Binder,” but browsing speeds for most Mainers have yet to increase much because they aren’t connected. For a detailed analysis of the issue and to see how your town ranks, check out this recent BDN article.

On Monday, U.S. Sen. Angus King will visit Rockport to announce that the town will launch the first municipally owned “ultra-fast Internet in Maine” through a partnership with Maine Media Workshops, GWI and Network Maine, which is part of the University of Maine System. Accompanying King to Rockport will be Susan P. Crawford, who served as President Obama’s special assistant for science, technology and innovation policy.

According to information from King’s office, Internet speeds in Rockport could reach 1,000 Mbps, which is about 115 times as fast as the current state average. At that speed, it would take you a microsecond to download video of these twin baby moose playing in a sprinkler.

Or maybe, you could do something to improve Maine’s economy.

 

 

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.