Update: Community Broadband Meeting

GrowSmart Maine hosted a community meeting at the Augusta Multicultural Center in early April to hear about the experiences of people using the internet and the barriers they may face to being digitally connected. A variety of Kennebec County towns were represented by those in attendance.

In collaboration with Maine Connectivity Authority and Maine Broadband Coalition, the meeting is part of a series of activities to assess and plan for the digital access needs of 123,300 people, or 52,800 households in Kennebec County. A Digital Equity and Digital Inclusion plan for Kennebec County will contribute to a state-wide plan, scheduled to be released in June for public comment. Stay tuned for more information about sharing your thoughts about the plan when it is released.

Attendees included a woman from Vassalboro who lives at the end of a 1000-foot driveway and cannot connect to high-speed internet. We heard from several AARP volunteers who want to be connected but don’t understand the jargon such as ISP, DSL, or Fiber. We heard from a non-traditional college student, a mother of two, who can’t always connect at home or the speed is too slow for online classes.

True digital equity is a condition where all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy. Digital equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services.