AUGUSTA — A bill sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to create a state plan to improve cell phone coverage in rural Maine was signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills on Monday.
“Anyone that lives or works in rural areas of our state knows that there are substantial gaps in cell phone coverage. This bill will put in motion a serious effort to remove technological barriers that prevent rural Mainers from getting ahead, ensure small businesses can connect with customers and retain young people in our state,” said President Jackson. “I look forward to the development and implementation of this plan and thank the governor for signing this proposal into law.”
LD 1603, “Resolve, To Coordinate a Plan to Expand Cellular Telephone Service,” directs the Department of Administrative and Financial Services to work with NetworkMaine and the Connect Maine Authority to develop a plan to expand cellular telephone service to underserved areas of the state. This may involve installing wireless base stations at state-owned facilities, but the bill leaves the significant authority to experts to determine how to best expand coverage.
Expanding cell phone coverage relies on the same fiber that brings broadband to rural areas. This plan could be developed in collaboration with other plans of Connect Maine to expand broadband service in similarly unserved areas.
LD 1603 will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die.