Over the weekend I read Ramona du Houx’s article, “Cover Maine With Broadband”, which highlights the importance high speed internet has with businesses.
Houx pinpoints the parallel between high-speed broadband and economic growth, showing that, because of broadband, connectivity across vast distances is possible even for those organizations who are not within an urban setting where broadband speeds are generally higher. These speeds, and the ability to access them, is the second-highest-ranked business consideration among job creators. The first is finding a skilled labor force.
What do we use Internet For?
I personally enjoy watching Netflix and perhaps enjoying an Xbox One game here and there (though as I get older, I find less time for these excursions of play). I also read a lot online – a lot! If a topic is foreign to me I “Google” it. I also use Youtube videos for tutorials or lectures. The amount of learning online is endless, but you can’t do it without internet. Scott Levitan is a Director of Marketing at Google, a perfect candidate to give us the facts about how we use the internet. According to him, most of Americans use the internet for consumption, namely to purchase goods or services online. If you’re a business in Maine but you don’t have a website how do people purchase from you? Imagine not being able to purchase online from LL Bean? How much potential business would they be losing? And yet, according to Levitan, 59% of Maine businesses don’t have a website. Is it possible that Maine-based businesses are forgoing the building of websites because they don’t have access to broadband? Houx gives a statistic from the Associated Press which says that “In Maine 22 percent of the population does not have access to high speed internet.”
Houx notes the reliability of fiber and I have mentioned many of those benefits in my blog post here. The one takeaway is that fiber cable is more reliable than copper, and the latter has been the traditional material used for DSL and Cable networks. Houx gives the example of a farmer who’s business relies on internet for tasks like processing orders and managing online banking. When service is disconnected his business loses thousands of dollars the next day from make-up-work.
Houx references a study done in 2013 by Fiber to The Home Council which found that of the businesses who used fiber-optic broadband, operating expenses for them went down 20%. These statistics seem impressive enough to motivate Joe Baldacci for change in Maine. Baldacci serves as the chairman of a task force that seeks to find better options for more broadband in the city of Bangor. We see here that funding – whether private or governmental – is a real obstacle for building fiber throughout the state.
Why Fiber is Important to the US – and Maine
Businesses have already determined the benefits of having a fiber optic network. Fast speeds means more efficiency for tasks to be completed. From this article you get the sense that there exists a positive correlation between faster network speeds and economic growth. The government in Maine is pushing to make broadband accessible to rural areas. This means an attempt to give businesses more options, so if you’re lucky enough to live in a location in Maine that is connected, you should really take advantage of them. Find out which organizations have built a fiber optic network on your road. Google the words “high speed fiber Maine” and look for options on pricing. Call those companies, obtain a direct quote, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re not sure of something.
If Maine is pushing to get fiber out to more businesses we should know which companies are providing it. Knowing your options is important.