No laws require the companies to cooperate — unless they receive federal funds to expand their own broadband operations. And federal and state laws and rules allow lots of protection of company data. "A lot of it's going to be moral suasion on my part," Lindley says. But apart from some basic questions about the rules for confidential and proprietary information, "we haven't gotten any pushback yet."

A key piece of information is about the actual speeds available to customers. While at the moment, state efforts are focusing on getting broadband to where people are still suffering with dial-up, at some point state efforts will need to boost broadband speeds too. (And there's no time like the present, in the wake of the latest Akamai "State of the Internet" report, which shows that other countries — even non-tech-mecca places like Romania and the Czech Republic! — are boosting broadband speeds far faster than the US, which actually saw speeds fall in 2009.)

Lindley is hoping to get very detailed information that will at least be available to state officials planning where to spend public money, even if it's not available to the wider public.

He expects preliminary results before summer, which will give a taste of how much Maine's 21st-century utility companies support openness. What info there is will be online

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