Partnerships Enabling Middle Mile
The Partnerships for Enabling Middle Mile (PEMM) program will make available $23 million of Capital Projects Funds to address large-scale, regional broadband needs by leveraging middle mile infrastructure and maximizing private and community financial contributions.
The PEMM program will serve as another evolution in Maine’s broadband funding seeking to leverage community-informed regional-scale partnerships through a proactive partnership model addressing concentrations of unserved locations and ensuring universal coverage. This type of funding program builds from MCA’s existing Connect The Ready programming, links to the new Middle Mile funding, and prepares all partners and stakeholders for a modified funding strategy that will be developed for Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) funds in 2024.
Who is Eligible?
Public and private owners and operators of middle-mile and last-mile infrastructure
Starting in August 2023, MCA will accept proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis
Broadband Infrastructure Director
Who is eligible to apply?
In August 2023, MCA will begin accepting proposals from public and private owners and operators of middle-mile and last-mile infrastructure to leverage these resources.
Criteria & Priorities
Leverage middle mile infrastructure
Projects will take advantage of proximity or network design to address high concentrations of unserved locations and will principally develop multi-use, fiber-optic networks with sufficient capacity to be used for last-mile connections on an open-access basis, resulting in:
Service to community anchor institutions
Fiber-to-the-Premise (FTTP) service to potential subscriber locations along the route
Expansion of those FTTP networks in the region through interconnected lateral routes
Service to mobile and fixed wireless networks
Other middle-mile transport services
Projects that included funding for new middle mile infrastructure should be open access and non-discriminatory. Enabling Middle-Mile Partnerships may also result in facilitating new last-mile connections by funding: strategically-placed equipment colocation and interconnection shelters along the route, dark fiber IRUs to major regional internet POPs, fiber or high-capacity microwave links to offshore islands.
Multi-Community Regional Partnerships
Projects should include at least three municipalities and include a scope of work that provides universal service at a regional scale. MCA will work with each applicant to ensure that proposals include the appropriate scope and may suggest adding additional communities to the scope of the project.
Endorsement from Regional/Municipal Partners
Projects should include an explicit endorsement from parters at the regional and/or municipal level reflected in project proposals and reflect ongoing local efforts to bring broadband service to that area.
Maximize Financial Commitment
Funded projects will be those that maximize value and broadband impact to the last mile by providing the highest level of financial commitment from community/ISP partners. Successful applications will likely have matches in the 30-50% range.
Universal coverage throughout proposed project areas
Proposed projects must enable Universal Service within the project area boundaries. Universal
Service is defined as access for all locations to service with the same performance standards
offered to Eligible Locations. Applicants are not required to provide service to locations that are
already classified as Served by 100/100 service.
In addition to the MCA's application to the NTIA Middle-Mile Grant Program, MCA will allocate $23 million from the ARPA Capital Projects Fund for middle-mile partnerships that result in new fiber infrastructure and access to existing infrastructure that enables last-mile connections.
How to Apply
An opt-in application reflecting the criteria above has been posted to the MCA Connect The Ready Application portal and website. Potential awards will be reviewed at MCA board meetings starting as early as November 2023, although it is not anticipated that all funding will be committed by November 2023 and will be open on a rolling basis until funds are committed.