The vote on June 8 in Rockport, Camden and Thomaston can move Midcoast Internet forward as a nonprofit regional municipal utility and create its legal entity, the Midcoast Internet Development Corp. Support remains far-reaching, with many calling the project and its goals “wonderful,” “a no-brainer,” and “key to the future of the Midcoast.” As the chair and vice chair of the Midcoast Internet Coalition, the group of communities and organizations championing this project, we are thrilled and appreciate the skill, knowledge, expertise and dedication of these regional representatives.

The big corporate providers in our region have shown themselves to be opponents. A written piece in circulation from the Maine Policy Institute, formerly the Maine Heritage Policy Center, demonstrates a common tactic to misrepresent Midcoast Internet, its coalition of communities, and the regional municipal utility that we seek to build for the benefit of the Midcoast.

Last week, during the South Thomaston Select Board meeting, we heard similar disinformation spewed from Charter Communications/Spectrum. When their representative presented the town with similar falsehoods, the South Thomaston Select Board pushed back, challenging the representative and questioning her “facts,” and calling her out on numerous false statements. I respect and appreciate the work of the South Thomaston Select Board and their due diligence on behalf of their community.

However, many folks will not be in a position to question or to directly push back.

Like Charter/Spectrum, MPI looked into our guiding principles and went to work to take us down. They are entitled to their opinions, but as they spread falsehoods and misinformation, it becomes a dangerous approach in an effort to sway public sentiment and policy.

They are fixated on the issue of increasing taxes. However, the Midcoast Internet project and its soon-to-be created regional utility is specifically designed without placing a tax burden on our communities and without the authority to do so.

Outside corporate and political interests make false claims of “the government” owning, operating, and being the service provider. Municipal ownership is a key component of our model, and its unique ability to keep the network assets and its profits in the hands of the regional communities for reinvestment and to ensure equitable services.

For operation and internet service, Midcoast Internet is built around a public/private partnership model, where the communities own the infrastructure, which is commonly called the dark fiber. The network is operated by an experienced professional contractor and serviced by experienced private providers (ISPs), who lease space on the open access system.

With opponents going after us, we wish to remind our communities of what we are working so hard to provide:

Community ownership

Professional operation

Professional service providers

Open access network

Fiber to the premises (residential and business)

Lower costs for service

Higher-quality service

Public-private partnership, focused on universal coverage for unserved and underserved

State-of-the-art fiber-optic technology

Local customer service and support

With no tax increase

A great model. One that we are proud of. And thus, we work tirelessly to bring it to life.

With a YES vote on June 8, the Midcoast will take the important first step to bring these benefits to residents and businesses in our communities throughout the region.

Best regards, and with great hope for the future,

Debra Hall, chair, Midcoast Internet Coalition; chair, Rockport Select Board

Matt Siegel, vice chair, Midcoast Internet Coalition; vice chair, Camden Planning Board

Debra Hall has 40 years of experience as an international corporate, regulatory and technology attorney. Debra advocates that high-speed internet is the essential driver of today’s economy and social fabric.

Matt Siegel has been a professor at New York University and worked for Singapore’s MediaCorp as a broadcast, communications and satellite infrastructure consultant.