United States Sen. Angus King joined Rockport Town Manager Richard Bates, Maine Media Workshops and College, GWI and Network Maine at the official launch for Maine’s first municipally-owned, ultra-fast Internet network Aug. 11.

The new “gigabit per second” network which can transmit 1,000 megabits of data per second, is the result of a public-private partnership between the town government, private industry and educational institutions, according to a press release provided by King's office. The first of its kind in Maine, this community-owned, ultra-high-speed network is an important step forward for economic development and technology infrastructure in Maine, the release states.

“The reason it is so important is, that for the first time in history people can work from where they live, instead of having to live where they work,” King said. “People have been freed of geography and it gives them an opportunity to choose where they are going to do their work and where they are going to work from.”

He added, “The key to that is having the connections, so that places whether it be Maine, or Bangladesh, or India, or Mexico, they can join the world community.”

Also attending the event at Maine Media Workshops and College was Susan P. Crawford, who once served as President Barack Obama’s Special Assistant for Science, Technology, and Innovation policy. Crawford now is a leading advocate for high-speed internet access in the U.S.

"Without local leadership, we're not going to see fiber around the country," she said. "Sen. Angus King should be a national voice, taking up the mantle of leadership to show what's possible when a town collaborates and makes sure that its citizens can not only download the water and take a shower, but as the students at this college know, you've got to be able to upload and only fiber makes that possible."

Maine Media College President Meg Weston, Network Maine Executive Director Jeff Letourneau, GWI CEO and founder Fletcher Kittredge all joined King and Bates in making the announcement.

The fiber optic network will initially by used by the town library and the media college and its affiliated classrooms in the Shepherd Block. Installation of the network in the library was partially funded by a grant from Maine Research and Education Network, which has been setting up technology for schools and libraries in various communities around the state, according to the release.

In addition to grant money, the network installation is being funded in part by Tax Incremental Financing money, as well as money from the college.