Telecommunications in Maine Takes Shape
(from Maine Townsman, May 1996)
By Rita Bouchard

 Several new Maine telecommunications initiatives are rapidly taking shape, propelling the state of Maine into a sophisticated world of electronic connectivity. With advanced telecommunications, it will not matter geographically where you work anymore because access will "level the playing field" for all players.

Maine Info Net

On June 11, 1996, Maine voters will decide the fate of a $5 million bond issue for the establishment of a statewide library information system. If approved, the system will be fully installed and operational within 12 months.

Maine Info Net is an ambitious library catalog that will build upon existing electronic databases including URSUS and MaineCat, and will be supplemented by an additional million items. The database, updated weekly, will be searchable on the Internet though an easy World Wide Web interface. Libraries can participate at several levels: sharing a circulation and public access catalog system, contributing holdings of information periodically, or simply using Info Net as an on-line reference tool.

How will Maine citizens benefit? Maine library collections represent an immense information resource that, expressed in monetary value, approaches a quarter billion dollars. Maine Info Net makes this bough-and-paid-for resource more useful to more people at a very marginal cost. No matter how small or remote the community, Maine citizens will have access through their libraries to more information faster than ever before.

School and Library Information

Infrastructure Project (SLIIP)

SLIIP is the product of a January 5, 1996 PUC/NYNEX order to provide a high-speed connectivity to every school and library in the state. Communities can choose from the following connections:

A back-bone tier that allows schools and libraries to plug into a 56 Kbps frame relay system provided by NYNEX.

An access tier that provides an alternative equivalent value package with services at least as good or better than those provided in the back-bone tier, but through vendors other than NYNEX, such as ATM, Cable, etc.

A free voice-grade phone line and 22 hours per month of free long distance calling to a dial-up network connection, plus a 28.8 kpbs modem.

Equipment grants of up to $3,000 for purchase of hardware and software.

For public libraries, up to two additional voice-grade business lines for $12 per month each, a substantial savings over normal rates.

In the first year, $500,000 will be spent for computer equipment and training. The Maine Internet Education Consortium, in affiliation with the Maine Science Technology Foundation, will coordinate the training aspects of the SLIIP project.

ATM Bond Issue

The ATM project, approved by Maine voters in November, 1995, is a fiber based broad band switching network developed to promote economic development and educational equity throughout the state. The ATM project will provide every high school in Maine with an interactive video linkage and data. The $15 million bond issue will purchase wires, switching, and routing equipment. The ATM infrastructure is expected to be in place by September, 1997.