Oct 17, 2022

Maine Connectivity Authority Accepting Applications for $100 Million in Broadband Infrastructure Grants

New connectivity programming part of statewide effort to reach the last mile, advance digital equity, and connect the places and partners ready for investment

AUGUSTA, ME – On Tuesday, Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA) announced applications are open for its new Connect the Ready Program. The competitive grants program will allocate $70 million to public & private partners such as governmental entities, broadband utility districts, and internet service providers. This initiative will support partners’ efforts to proactively and collaboratively design, fund, and build broadband infrastructure projects in eligible areas. The program will prioritize the deployment of broadband infrastructure in mostly unserved communities, including some of the most rural and remote around the state.

“Maine has been a pioneer in broadband policy and programming,” said MCA President Andrew Butcher. “Connect the Ready represents an amazing opportunity to build on and significantly increase the scale of the innovative work done across the state to date, leveraging Maine’s culture of partnering to achieve our common goals.”

The strong partnerships between Maine’s communities and internet service provider (ISP) businesses are at the core of Connect the Ready. The program builds on the growing list of 44 Maine communities and regions that have received broadband infrastructure funding through MCA (and previously the ConnectMaine Authority). By allowing communities to demonstrate where access is needed the most, new internet infrastructure will grow to meet Mainers not only where they are, but where they're headed.

“Economic and community development in rural Maine requires access to high-speed broadband. The Greater East Grand Region is excited to take advantage of funding opportunities like Connect the Ready, and to experience what high-speed, reliable and affordable broadband service can mean for the region,” commented Sarah Strickland, Interim Director of the Greater East Grand Economic Council.

Over the past four months, MCA has engaged in more than 40 stakeholder conversations and feedback sessions around the state. This input has directly shaped the development of the Connect the Ready program and has allowed MCA to develop a program that meets the needs and goals of a wide variety of potential applicants. The fall 2022 grant round is the first of several for Connect the Ready. MCA will continue to iterate the program design based on applicant feedback as future funding rounds are announced in early 2023 and beyond.

“Fidium is all in on fiber! We know how critical broadband infrastructure is for Maine’s economy, our community and society, and we are excited to partner with Maine Connectivity Authority on several key programs,” said Erik Garr, President of Fidium Fiber. “We have invested millions of dollars building fiber to hundreds of thousands of locations throughout Maine and our investment will continue as these important initiatives allow us to go further, connecting more Mainers.”

Connect the Ready is part of the comprehensive suite of MCA's “All-In” Programs, which are funded by a $150 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act’s Capital Projects Fund and the Maine Jobs and Recovery Program. This represents a tenfold increase over any past investment in Maine’s broadband infrastructure. The All-In programs are designed to provide funding and benefit for stakeholders of all types and include:

- Connect the Ready Grants - Applications open: October 11 to November 9, 2022.
$70 million to expand funding for proactive public-private partnerships to collaboratively design and build broadband infrastructure projects in eligible areas

- Get Ready: Community Support - Applications open: September 7 to October 28, 2022.
$30 million to support community-driven planning efforts with technical assistance, planning and data analysis, and the further development of local anchor institutions

- Regional Broadband Partnerships - Applications open: September 22 to November 4, 2022.
Up to $500,000 per award recipient to support regional partnerships working toward digital equity and inclusion while creating alignment and coordination between communities, regions, and the state

Danny Sullivan, President of Downeast Broadband Utility, added, “DBU truly understands the need for future-proof broadband to strengthen our economy, expand healthcare, improve education and help create communities that would keep our youth in the state. We have built a community-owned and operated fiber-to-the-home network in six towns and counting, and look forward to working with the Maine Connectivity Authority through their Connect the Ready Program and other efforts to bring world-class broadband to Maine."

For more information about the MCA’s Connect the Ready Program or other All-In programming, please visit www.maineconnectivity.org. For interview requests, please contact MCA Communications Director Brian Allenby at (207) 200-5824 or ballenby@maineconnectivity.org.