Maine Connectivity Authority announces $150 million to fund broadband expansion
AUGUSTA – The Maine Connectivity Authority announced that it is going “All-In” to bring broadband internet to all Mainers. The U.S. Department of the Treasury approved MCA’s broadband expansion plan application and will provide $110 million from the American Rescue Plan Act’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund to support MCA’s programs. Combined with an anticipated $18.2 million second round of CPF funding and $21 million allocated from the Maine Jobs and Recovery Program, the All-In program represents a tenfold increase over any past investment in Maine’s broadband infrastructure. The program structure crafted by MCA will be guided and refined through extensive public engagement during the summer of 2022, with the first phase of funding opportunities to launch in the fall of this year.
“These funds represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build the infrastructure for the future,” said MCA President Andrew Butcher. “We are grateful for the opportunity to meet the moment and are committed to getting these funds to work as quickly as possible.”
The award announcement represents 86 percent of Maine’s approximate allocation of $128.2 million that will flow from the Treasury Department to be distributed by the MCA. The program’s goals include reaching the last mile in the most rural places, connecting communities ready to scale their infrastructure, providing technical assistance to prepare communities, ensuring affordable options for everyone, and investing in partnerships to build a modern broadband infrastructure for Maine. Specific funding programs include:
- $70 million Connect the Ready competitive grant program to expand funding for proactive partnerships and project development in eligible communities and areas
- $30 million Get Ready grant program to support community-driven planning efforts with technical assistance, planning and data analysis, and the further development of local anchor institutions
- $30 million Enable Middle Mile Partnerships to promote public-private partnership development to expand middle mile infrastructure that will enable last mile broadband
- $20 million Reach Me line extension incentive program for owners of existing networks to complete service to the last mile
“For our people, our economy, and our future, a high-speed internet connection must be available to everyone in Maine who wants one – and that’s why I committed Maine to achieving that goal by the end of 2024,” said Gov. Janet Mills. “Maine’s responsible use of these Federal funds – developed by the Maine Connectivity Authority – will help us reach that goal and make a real and positive difference in the lives of Maine people, especially those who live in our rural communities. I am excited by this transformational opportunity, and I thank the Treasury Department, U.S. Sen. King and Congresswoman Pingree, and the Maine Connectivity Authority for helping make it possible.”
“These funds represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build the infrastructure for the future,” said Andrew Butcher, president of the Maine Connectivity Authority. “We are grateful for the opportunity to meet the moment and are committed to getting these funds to work as quickly as possible.”
MCA estimates that the All-In Program will bring high-speed broadband to more than 30,000 homes and businesses in rural and remote areas. The programming will be grounded in MCA’s parallel work developing a statewide Digital Equity and 5-Year Broadband Masterplan, which are also slated to launch this fall. Further, Maine will require all ISP recipients to take part in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program. Those participants will offer a $30/month plan to qualifying households that meet the state definition of broadband service at 50/10 Mbps.
The Maine Connectivity Authority was created by the state legislature in 2021 and designed to proactively address the state’s connectivity needs while managing the unprecedented influx of funding for the development of the state’s broadband infrastructure.
“The Capital Projects Funds, in combination with support from Gov. Mills’ Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, will allow Maine to springboard toward a more connected future,” said Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson.
For more information about the MCA’s All-In Funding Program, please visit www.maineconnectivity.org/all-in.
Established in 2021, the Maine Connectivity Authority is a quasi-governmental agency charged with achieving the universal access of affordable high-speed broadband in Maine. Led by a diverse staff and board appointed by The Governor, the MCA will work to ensure three goals: That effective, accessible connectivity be universally available in the state; that there be secure, affordable, reliable, competitive, sustainable and forward-looking infrastructure that can meet future needs; and that all residents, businesses and institutions in Maine be able to take full advantage of the economic, health, educational and other opportunities available through connectivity services. For more information: maineconnectivity.org.