ConnectMaine's Peggy Schaffer on the challenges with federal funding

NASHVILLE – Fiber Connect 2022 – Peggy Schaffer, executive director of Maine's state broadband authority, ConnectMaine, joined Light Reading at the Fiber Connect conference last week to discuss the work her office has done to expand broadband connectivity in the state.

"We just gave out about $15 million in funding, which is the biggest amount we've ever given out," said Schaffer. "We estimate we have about [80,000] people who don't have ... at least a 25/3 connection. And so between our last couple rounds of grants ... we've knocked about 35,000 people off of that list."

She also discussed the Biden administration's $65 billion broadband legislation and why she's not exactly optimistic about the federal broadband map that the FCC is set to release this fall.

Here are just a few topics discussed in this video:

  • Background on ConnectMaine and the Maine Connectivity Authority (00:23)
  • State of the digital divide in Maine (01:40)
  • Maine's expectations for new broadband infrastructure funding (02:45)
  • The importance of the Digital Equity Act (04:47)
  • The FCC's forthcoming broadband map (06:40)
  • Challenges with applying for federal funds (08:15)

Related stories and links:

— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading; and Nicole Ferraro, Site Editor, Broadband World News

6/20/2022 |
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Thursday, August 4, 2022
11:00 a.m. New York / 4:00 p.m. London

The digital divide in North America is leaving millions without adequate broadband. Incumbents operate in “islands” of connectivity, serving densely populated areas and, at a national scale, perpetuating the digital divide in the gaps in between their service footprints. Regional ISPs have a clear role in closing that gap.

These regional ISPs operate in a highly fragmented landscape, including smaller wireless and FTTH incumbents, satellite ISPs, electric co-ops, tribal communities, and municipalities in public/private partnerships. These regional ISPs face the same cyber threats and operational challenges as their Tier 1 counterparts, but with far fewer resources and revenue-generating population density. As a result, many regional ISPs have developed highly innovated business models for access and core technology, partnerships, financing and services.

The discussion will cover:

  • Three ISPs that have taken an innovative approach to their business, as detailed in a recent STL Partners report
  • Why regional ISPs need to double down on core security basics such as DDoS protection
  • How ISPs have created new revenue by offering managed services
  • Core network capabilities required for IPv4-IPv6 management

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