Aug 22, 2023
How the Maine Connectivity Authority is helping improve access to high-speed internet
The Affordable Connectivity Program, ACP, will pay up to $75 per month for eligible households.
FREEPORT, Maine — In an era where high-speed internet access has become an indispensable necessity for work, education, and communication, an estimated 80,000 households in Maine find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide.
Approximately one-third of these households have taken a step toward bridging this divide by enrolling in a program that covers the costs associated with obtaining high-speed internet connectivity.
The Maine Connectivity Authority, the state agency responsible for overseeing digital inclusion efforts, asserts that the estimated figure of 80,000 underserved households could potentially be an underestimation.
In response, Maine is intensifying its efforts to encourage more households to participate in a federal program designed to subsidize the cost of internet access.
This initiative has been bolstered by federal funding allocated through the Infrastructure Jobs Act, a move aimed at reducing the financial burden of monthly internet bills for eligible households.
For countless households, federal funding could mean the difference between having internet access and being digitally disconnected.
"When we actually think about who has access to the internet, we think if someone has service to their house in rural parts of Maine, but data shows it's if people can afford it," Jessica Perez, the digital equity manager for the Maine Connectivity Authority, said.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is helping eligible households receive financial support of up to $75 per month to offset their internet expenses.
Household eligibility is determined by income thresholds.
"The early data shows that about 25 percent of participating households are entirely new to internet access," Kiera Reardon, the interagency broadband manager at the Maine Connectivity Authority, said.
Perez emphasized the urgency of taking action.
"The funds are not indefinite, so we really want people to check it out and apply now because this is the best time to take advantage of the program while there's funding in it," she said.
The funding is projected to sustain eligible households until 2029.
In-person assistance sessions are being conducted. This week, the program's outreach efforts are centered in the town of Sebago.