(AP) The challenge of bringing broadband to rural Maine communities is getting a closer look.

Representatives from rural states have gathered in Hallowell Tuesday to discuss what works when expanding broadband infrastructure and access.

Speakers include community leaders who have tried out new business models to introduce broadband in Minnesota, Illinois, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine. The biggest issues on the agenda include reaching out to potential customers, securing contracts and financing and overseeing construction and network operations.

Conference organizers, such as Coastal Enterprises, Inc. and the Maine Broadband Coalition, say internet access is critical for economic growth. Communities and legislators have been exploring ways to make sure the internet is fast, dependable and affordable.

Speakers include an Isleboro official who is overseeing the implementation of the first island gigabit network.