Free forum on high-speed internet in Bethel area

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A forum that is free and open to the public will explore access to and affordability of high-speed internet technology in the Bethel area, how it is being used in business, everyday life and supporting our communities, and how well existing broadband access is meeting the needs in our communities. The forum is being held on Wednesday, May 25, 6 – 7:30 p.m. at Telstar High School in the Lecture Hall and will include light refreshments.
High-speed internet or broadband is critical infrastructure for business, education health, care, public safety and government operations. Oxford County lags behind most other counties in Maine in adoption of the internet.
•Only 80 percent of Oxford County businesses have an Internet connection compared to 93 percent for the state.
•Just 3.3 percent of Oxford County businesses and residents have connectivity at the state download and upload standard of 10 Mbps (megabytes per second) which is the lowest percentage of any county in the State except Somerset County.
•The primary barriers to broadband adoption among Maine households and businesses are a lack of knowledge of the value of the internet and computers and the cost of a broadband subscription.
Featured presenters include State Representative Norman Higgins (R-Dover-Foxcroft), a member of the Legislature’s Energy, Utility and Technology Committee; Susan Corbett, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Axiom Technologies, Inc. in Machias; and Lisa Leahy, Associate Executive Director of the ConnectME Authority. Representatives of Oxford Networks and Time Warner Cable—the most available local internet service providers—will be participating in the forum, too.
This forum is organized with support from Maine West—a collaboration of nonprofit organizations and individuals dedicated to addressing systemic rural challenges and enhancing community well-being in western Maine through increased collaboration across economic, education, health and conservation sectors.
Co-sponsors include Coastal Enterprises, Inc., the ConnectME Authority, Community Concepts Finance Corporation, and the Maine Broadband Coalition.

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