Jul 14, 2022
King Announces Historic $110 Million Investment in Maine Broadband
Funding to serve 22,500 rural locations in Maine comes from American Rescue Plan Capital Projects Fund established by Senator King
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, today announced the approval of a $110 million investment in Maine broadband infrastructure from the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund, which Senator King helped author. The historic funding will go to Maine Infrastructure Ready, a competitive broadband grant program administered by the Maine Connectivity Authority, which is expected to bring high-speed, reliable internet connections to 22,500 households across the state. The program is focused on serving locations in Maine that currently lack access to reliable broadband at speeds of 100/20 megabits per second, including remote locations in Maine’s most rural counties.
“Access to high-speed, affordable, and reliable internet is fundamental for success the 21st century, especially in rural states like Maine. These vital connections are a game changer for communities and families similar to the way electrification was in the 20th century,” said Senator King. “This historic $110 million broadband investment from the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund will make a significant difference for people throughout our state – expanding economic prosperity, opening educational pathways, and creating convenient ways to get critical services like healthcare. Combined with the broadband provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, these funds will get us close to ensuring that every Maine person – regardless of where they live – can access the critical 21st century tool. My colleagues and I worked hard to include the Capital Projects Fund in the American Rescue Plan, and I look forward to seeing how this funding creates valuable new opportunities for Maine people.”
“For our people, our economy, and our future, a high-speed internet connection must be available to everyone in Maine who wants one – and that’s why I committed Maine to achieving that goal by the end of 2024,” said Governor Janet Mills. “Maine’s responsible use of these Federal funds – developed by the Maine Connectivity Authority – will help us reach that goal and make a real and positive difference in the lives of Maine people, especially those who live in our rural communities. I am excited by this transformational opportunity, and I thank the Treasury Department, Senator King and Congresswoman Pingree, and the Maine Connectivity Authority for helping make it possible.”
“These broadband investments through the American Rescue Plan will help lay the foundation to ensure that every American household and small business has access to affordable, high-speed internet,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo. “Treasury commends the work Maine is doing to close the digital divide and ensure that every community—including rural communities—has access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet.”
The American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund will be investing $110 million in Maine Infrastructure Ready, a competitive broadband grant program administered by the Maine Connectivity Authority, that is expected to bring internet connections at speeds of 100/20 megabits per second to 22,500 households across the state – predominantly in rural, underserved areas. This is the first round of American Rescue Plan funding for Maine Infrastructure Ready, with another $18 million expected to be allocated in the months to come. Senator King helped negotiate the fund, making it a priority in the pandemic aid package which passed by one vote in March of 2020. Broadband expansion has been one of Senator King’s central goals since launching his Senate campaign in 2012, comparing the effort to the transformational process of rural electrification in the 20th century.
As co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, Senator King has been a strong advocate for expanding affordable broadband access as a way to increase economic opportunity in rural Maine – to do away with the “digital divide” holding back millions of Americans – and has raised the issue consistently during the coronavirus pandemic. After Senator King’s advocacy and negotiation, President Biden signed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to invest $65 billion in broadband infrastructure across the nation. The IIJA’s historic broadband provisions include over $40 billion in block grants to states and $2 billion for tribal governments, mirroring Senator King’s bipartisan BRIDGE Act and the Digital Equity Act, he championed to invest $2.75 billion in an array of projects at the state and local level that promote “digital equity.” This is in addition to securing $10 billion in funding for broadband in the American Rescue Plan, as well as more than $7 billion to close the digital divide for students nationwide. Together, these constitute the largest investment in broadband in the nation’s history.