AUGUSTA — The Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee unanimously approved a bill from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, that would increase cell phone coverage in rural Maine on Thursday.
“The lack of cell phone coverage in rural areas is a serious barrier for students, workers, businesses and residents,” said President Jackson. “This bill takes advantage of existing resources and works with a number of different departments to expand cell coverage for Mainers.”
The bill – LD 1603, “An Act To Improve Cell Phone Service in Underserved Areas by Installing Wireless Base Stations at State-owned Facilities” – 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 now go before the full legislature for additional votes.