Jumpstart Connectivity Initiative

What is it?

The Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA) is launching the Jumpstart Connectivity Initiative (Jumpstart) to provide accelerated low-cost internet access to the least served areas of the state by trialing the deployment of wireless technology deployments. Target areas are those where service level is estimated to be at or below 25/3 mbps and where wired deployments are currently impractical.

MCA intends to fund these efforts with support from the Maine Jobs and Recovery Program both to provide accelerated connectivity to places where there aren’t other viable solutions and to evaluate overall effectiveness of different technologies and service models.  The goal is to trial technologies that will be rapidly deployed in priority areas and that will potentially scale as a component of the State’s overall connectivity strategy.    

 

The MCA intends to provide funding for between 1 and 4 pilot projects with a total budget of up to $2M. All funded projects will provide internet service to households using wireless technology for middle and/or last mile access.

Applications are now closed. MCA is currently reviewing submissions and will contact the applicants following our August board meeting.

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What’s the timeline?

  • MCA held an Information Session on June 1st, 2022 at 3 PM. A recording of that session can be viewed HERE. The passcode for the recording is Aph?90Ff

  • Applications were accepted until June 12th, 2022 at 11:59 PM. No communication with MCA will be permitted regarding this project while the Request for Applications is open prior to application submission.

  • MCA will hold discussions with project applicants until July 1st, 2022 to determine final scopes, costs, and requirements. Meetings can be requested prior to the application deadline if the application has been submitted. A list of 30-minute time slots that can be requested by applicants is available with the link to the right.

  • Award winners will be notified following MCA's August board meeting. At this point, winners will be requested to prepare marketing material for the projects. Communication will be embargoed between award recipient notification and public award announcement of awards. 

  • Projects will be announced publicly in mid-August.

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Applicants are encouraged to sign up for one of these slots as soon as possible. Please do not sign up for a slot if you are not submitting an application. Please only sign up for one slot. Only MCA staff will see these submissions. 

What sized project can I propose / How much will we need to spend?

The total program budget is $2 million dollars, which will need to be split between up to four pilot projects. The MCA share will be capped at between $250,000 and $500,000 toward each proposed project. The total project cost and overall benefit will be considered in evaluating proposed projects.

A 25% match of total project cost will be required for all projects.

 

What are eligible expenses?

ARPA funding will be used for these projects and spending must meet requirements for that funding pool. The final rule can be found HERE. It is expected that both capital and operating expenses will be eligible.

Where can we propose a project? Are there preferred areas?

Eligible project areas can be found on the provided map. Preferred areas are those where geography, topography, population density, poverty level, and/or lack of enabling infrastructure create disadvantageous commercial investment conditions.

Providers believing that eligible areas are served to a level of reliable service greater than 25/3 are encouraged to send maps documenting that service to MCA to be considered during project selection. 

Will GIS data be made available? 

Target areas are those where service level is estimated to be at or below 25/3 mbps and where wired deployments are currently impractical. When the application is posted, a map showing target areas and other features will be shared with potential applicants. The GIS data behind the map isn’t publicly available at this time. Please note, while you are preparing possible deployment scopes, that there will be a heavy preference for projects that provide service in areas that are least likely to receive commercial investment.

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The Eligibility Map has been updated to include non-satellite RDOF winners, to remove towns with funded projects (Roque Bluffs, Monhegan Island, Arrowsic), and to add a previously overlooked town: Bradford. Other federal grant programs have not been considered for this map due to minimum-speed requirements being below 25/3, but maps of those programs can be found HERE.

Are there preferred technologies?

All proposed wireless technologies will be considered. MCA may prioritize projects that include the use of unlicensed spectrum and satellite technologies in certain unserved areas. Preferred projects include those that ensure speed to deployment, scalability of solutions, and longevity of impact.  

 

How many applications can we submit?

Applicants wishing to propose more than one project may request all projects on one application if all questions are answered for all projects. Applicants may alternately elect to submit more than one application. 

 

What are the evaluation criteria?

More detail about the evaluation of proposed projects will be shared in the application posted. Projects will be evaluated based on at least the following criteria:

  • Project Area

  • Project impact on service level, service price and equity

  • Project design, including technology type, scalability, performance, practicality, and proven success

  • Additional project benefits

  • Project cost and any cost sharing

  • Ability to ensure consumer connection and service beyond the pilot term

  • Ability to complete the project before the end of the year

 

What speeds do we need to provide?

Funded projects will be asked to reliably provide symmetrical upload and download speeds of at least 100 Mbps. In situations where that is not practicable, projects shall provide download speeds of at least 100 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 20 Mbps, with the ability to scale to 100/100. Technologies below these thresholds can be proposed, and they will be reviewed, but the applicant must explain why the standards can not be met.

 

What prices will we be allowed to charge?

Service providers will be required to participate in the federal Affordable Connectivity Program for at least five years from project completion. Applicants are encouraged to propose an additional low-price option for service, for at least five years. Service providers are required to offer service for the same price for the same service they provide elsewhere in the state, for at least five years from project completion, and list any reasons for which changes in prices should be allowed. Applicants are encouraged to offer service at less than $60 per month. 

 

How will performance be measured? What happens if we don’t perform?

Performance testing plans will be negotiated with winning applicants after the application process. Applicants are permitted to propose testing procedures within the application. Applicants are encouraged to consider the elements of the grant audit posted by ConnectMaine: https://www.maine.gov/connectme/grants/award-recipients. Funded projects must be completed by the end of the year. Failure to meet this performance measure could result in some or all of the funds awarded being withheld or returned.

 

How will I know if my application was received?

Submissions will be acknowledged via a reply email. Please follow up if you do not receive an acknowledgment within 12 hours.

How does the 25% match work?

A 25% match is calculated as 25% of the entire project, not 25% of the award. For example, a  $500,000 project would require a $125,000 match and a $375,000 award.

Can two technology options be offered for one project design?

Applicants can provide two technology options for one project design, but all questions must be answered for each option. Each option will be considered to be a distinct project proposal. Applicants may alternately flag pieces of a proposed project that could be changed to reduce cost or improve service, but those flags may not be considered during evaluation if not enough information is included about impact on service or price. 

This list will be updated throughout the application process. Please send any remaining questions to:  Info@maineconnectivity.org.  (At least 3 staff monitor this account, and responses will be provided within 24 hours).

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