Jul 14, 2022

Federal funding could provide fast, reliable internet to thousands of Maine homes

A $110 million federal investment could provide fast, reliable internet connections for more than 22,000 Maine households.

PORTLAND (WGME) -- A $110 million federal investment could provide fast, reliable internet connections for more than 22,000 Maine households.

State officials are calling this a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to build infrastructure for the future.

For so long, rural Mainers simply haven't been able to get fast internet, but that's about to change.

It's not just that connection on Chebeague Island isn't good, it's that it varies.

“So you're paying the same amount, one person could have a halfway decent connection and the other just down the road be terrible,” Porter said.

The town is one of two communities considered “unserved” by the state.

That became an even bigger issue during the pandemic, with residents needing high speeds for school and work.

“If you don't have good internet, you can't,” Porter said. “That's about where it is. So it's great. The state is getting more money.”

The state is getting $110 million from the American Rescue Plan's Capital Projects Fund, which Senator Angus King helped author.

Funds will go to “Maine Infrastructure Ready,” a competitive grant program through the Maine Connectivity Authority.

“We pushed very hard for this to go through the states, because they know best where the needs are,” King said.

A 2020 report found it would cost at least $600 million to bring high-speed connection to unserved areas.

This new funding is a big chunk of that, along with other federal and state investments.

“When all is said and done, there should be sufficient funding to connect everyone in Maine,” King said.

“For a whole lot of families in Maine, these programs to work together to not only have highly affordable, but for some people, actually free internet coverage,” White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator Gene Sperling said.

King hopes projects using this funding will start to get underway this fall.

To see if you’re eligible for no-cost internet, click here.