Maine's average download speed in 2009 was 3.6 mbps, well below the US average and putting it in 41st position. This was little changed from the previous year. Almost two-thirds of residents had internet service in 2007 although over 16% still had dial-up from their ISP.
Maine was one of the first states to try to map broadband service availability, beginning to collect information in 2003. By 2004, it had a web-based map that included the location of wifi hotspots and showed where internet providers operated, indicating whether they offered a DSL or fiber optic cable service.
The Connect ME initiative was launched in 2005, aiming to invest in broadband infrastructure in unserved areas. In particular, the intention was to make broadband internet services available to 90% of Maine communities by 2010. At that time, only 74% of households had access and 40,000 needed to be added to reach the target.
Connect ME obtained funding partly from a telecommunications tax on communications providers. It made grants of $800,000 in 2007 to seven projects that provided high speed service to more than 50 communities, increasing availability by 2.8%. A second round of grants in 2008 totaled $1.75 million and added 12,500 users while a third round made a further $1 million available. Many grants went to providers of wireless internet access in rural areas.
By August 2009, Maine had applied for $2.759 million of NTIA funding to map broadband availability and $436,000 for planning, having appointed a local consultancy to undertake the mapping. It had requested each internet provider to submit data.
The situation has been improved by companies such as Fairpoint and Verizon upgrading their high speed services, including increased availability of wireless coverage in ski resorts. However, this remains largely confined to high population areas, particularly along the Atlantic coast and the state's northeast border.
The northernmost and largest state in New England, Maine has a continental climate with warm, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. It is renowned for its scenery, with its rocky coastline, mountains and forests.
The state is the world's largest blueberry producer and has a longstanding shipbuilding tradition. Commercial fishing remains important and tourism is an increasing contributor, with sport hunting being popular. Industrial output includes paper, lumber and wood products. The state capital is Augusta and the four largest cities are Portland, Lewiston, Bangor and South Portland.
Cities in Maine likely to have, or soon to receive, fiber optic cable internet services include Portland, Lewiston, Bangor, South Portland, Auburn and Augusta. Locations in ME with highest population counts will be targeted first by providers, though relatively high speeds can be achieved with dial-up or DSL through companies such as Netzero and Charter Communications Cable.