Middle Mile Initiative

What is middle mile?


Middle mile is the regional fiber optic infrastructure that enables last mile internet connectivity to homes, businesses, and other users at the local level. It is made up of high-capacity fiber that carries large amounts of data at high speeds over long distances and other telecommunications infrastructure (e.g. points of presence, community anchor institutions, etc.) that act as "off-ramps" that connect middle mile fiber to local networks that directly serve various users.  

What is the problem?

Maine's existing internet infrastructure is a patchwork of individual private networks. The middle mile infrastructure supporting these networks were generally not created to support the goal of universal broadband access throughout the state. While public and private investments over the last decade, including notably the federally-funded Three Ring Binder, have added essential infrastructure to support this goal, the job is not done. Too many areas of Maine remain un- or under-served. 

We need your feedback and input to best shape our Middle Mile Initiative. 

A solution?

New strategic infrastructure supported by the Maine Connectivity Authority can bridge this gap. New networks and access points will serve as digital highways and on-ramps to connect un- and under-served areas. Once built, non-discriminatory, open-access internet infrastructure can be accessed by any local internet service provider or wholesale customer, who can then directly connect to individual homes and businesses, connect to a cell tower to provide better wireless service, or provide a dedicated high-speed connections for data-intensive businesses.

The MCA's solution to this problem should be guided by the following principles:

  1. No traffic leaves Maine that does not need to.

  2. Reduce or eliminate competitive bottlenecks.

  3. Increase resilience by eliminating single points of failure.

  4. Investments should be financially sustainable and not require ongoing public subsidy.

  5. Provide long-term assurance for open access and non-discrimination. 

To achieve this goal, the Maine Connectivity Authority will facilitate shared internet infrastructure throughout the state (e.g., middle mile fiber, data centers, points of presence, and internet exchange points). The Maine Connectivity Authority will explore numerous options to build and finance this state-of-the-art infrastructure, including through public investment and support, private partnerships, and other innovative strategies. 

Request for Information:
Internet Service Providers and Communities in relation to the IIJA NTIA Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program


The Maine Connectivity Authority is requesting information from all Middle Mile Service Providers, Internet Service Providers, and Communities in relation to the NTIA’s Enabling Middle Mile Infrastructure Grant program. The MCA believes that this NTIA program presents a great opportunity to fund a portion of the state’s middle mile needs. In addition to direct outreach by the MCA to multiple stakeholders, this RFI provides another avenue to collect information from various stakeholders in Maine about their existing assets, needs, and willingness to partner as the MCA pursues an application to the NTIA’s Enabling Middle Mile Infrastructure Grant program.

The Request for Information is available below. Applications are due no later than August 15, 2022 at 11:59 PM.