New grant funding expands reliable internet across Maine
AUGUSTA — Fourteen Maine counties and 73 communities will benefit from $20 million in grant funding from the Maine Connectivity Authority as part of its Reach Me Line Extension Program that will expand reliable, fast and affordable internet.
The Reach Me grant funding will be matched by $13 million in private investment and will extend broadband service to 6,300 potential subscriber locations across 14 counties. Through this program, MCA worked directly with nine internet service providers to identify portions of their existing networks that would benefit from line extensions. These new connections will provide service to all locations in each area currently unserved by high-speed internet, and are in addition to the close to 20,000 locations announced by the Authority earlier this year.
Reach Me Line Extension awards include GoNetSpeed to serve 402 locations with
a $2,505,489 funding amount and $281,400 in private investment. Communities include LaGrange and Medford.
Premium Choice Broadband will serve 109 locations, including Greenville, with a $928,792 funding amount and $152,600 in private investment.
“With these grants, we are taking an important step to make sure that everyone in Maine who wants access to fast, reliable and affordable internet can connect by the end of 2024,” said Andrew Butcher, president of the Maine Connectivity Authority. “As we work to meet the Governor’s goal, the Maine Connectivity Authority is prioritizing those locations in Maine without an internet connection.”
Maine Connectivity Authority received over $60 million of funding requests for the program, which was designed to leverage and optimize existing ISP infrastructure with a focus on deploying funding where needed most. MCA worked directly with internet service providers to hone the scope of the proposed projects, targeting areas that currently lack connectivity. To further ensure the prioritization of the limited available funds, MCA also engaged with communities to evaluate how best to complement other community-driven initiatives underway.
“The Reach Me program is an exciting new offering from MCA. This represents one more tool in the box and compliments our public-private partnership grants through Connect the Ready, our Help for BUDs program, and our overarching work toward digital equity,” said Butcher. “As our programs came together last year, we heard from ISPs that there was a demand for this type of funding and worked to respond to that market demand and community need.”
New connections provided through the Reach Me Line Extension program will provide high-speed broadband service at levels of at least 100/100 Mbps. Service providers receiving awards must participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program, which guarantees internet access to low-income households for no more than the fully federally subsidized amount of $30 per month. Funding for the Reach Me Program was made available through the American Rescue Plan Capital Projects Fund.
The Maine Connectivity Authority was created in 2021 to expand access to fast, reliable and affordable internet to the people and places who need it and to break down the barriers that keep Mainers from taking full advantage of those connections.