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Nov 7, 2023

Maine Connectivity Authority puts all options on the table to expand broadband in Maine

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Broadband expansion across the U.S. has been a focal point for both federal and local officials.

Just earlier this year, President Joe Biden announced over $42 billion in aid to be spread across the country to ensure Americans all over will have access to high-speed internet.

Some Mainers lack high speed internet and good cellular connection.

Whether you live in a city or rural area of Maine, connectivity is important.

Which is why the Maine Connectivity Authority began analyzing all solutions.

Earlier in 2023, the MCA launched their jumpstart connectivity initiative.

Brian Allenby, the Program Operations and Communications Director for MCA said this effort will connect potentially thousands of customers.

After the finalization of three grants, the Maine Jobs and Recovery program funded their jumpstart initiative to analyze alternative technologies to expand broadband across the state, like Fixed Wireless Access.

“Understanding the alternative technologies like fixed wireless or like low earth orbit, LEO satellites do have a complementary role to play as we look at deploying technology that’ll reach everybody,” said Allenby.

Cleo Trumann is an Access Operations Engineer for US Cellular and she took part in putting Fixed Wireless Access to the test at this tower in Bingham.

So, what is fixed wireless access and how does it work?

“We have fiber optics running into our shelter, and it goes through the equipment and up the tower,” said Trumann.

“It covers a fair footprint and so it minimizes the amount of actual digging that needs to be done and running lines and everything by just using our wireless signal.”

That pre-existing structure is already in place, so they’ll simply add equipment to expand connectivity in rural areas.

Allenby said this is a part of a short- or medium-term solution.

“As we look at it as part of a phased approach, understanding that there are folks out there that have no connection and this is a short- or medium-term solution that can help them get online,” said Allenby.

“Regardless of whether you live in a town or city or on a farm or in the woods, you should be able to connect if you want,” said Trumann.

Maine Connectivity Authority is also opening their Broadband Equity Access and Deployment or BEAD program initial proposal for public comment.

This is where Mainers can ask questions about how the grant money will be used to expand connectivity across the state.

That forum will run through the month of November, and you can follow the link to learn more.

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