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Dec 12, 2023

Press Release: Maine Connectivity Authority Awards More Than $36M To Expand Internet Access

PORTLAND – The Maine Connectivity Authority has awarded more than $36.6 million in grants to expand affordable, reliable, high-speed internet service to more than 24,000 homes and businesses in 45 communities across the state. The grants are part of the agency’s All-In programming, funded through the American Rescue Plan and designed to provide a mixture of solutions to address the expansion of last mile infrastructure for high-speed internet.

“These grants demonstrate how communities, anchor institutions and internet service providers across the state are working together to connect Mainers to high-quality, affordable internet,” said Andrew Butcher, president of the Maine Connectivity Authority. “They represent a true partnership between the public and private sectors as MCA proactively deploys all solutions to get everyone online to close Maine’s digital divide.”

These grants are funded by the American Rescue Plan (combining US Treasury’s Capital Projects Funds and the Maine Jobs and Recovery Program) and will be matched by more than $25 million in private-sector and community investments.

MCA is announcing five Connect the Ready: Cohort 2 grant awards approved at the December MCA Board Meeting totaling $20.7 million. These awards will leverage almost $11 million in private and community investment, and connect nearly 6,500 homes and businesses across 27 communities in Maine. The Connect the Ready Program invests in community-informed public-private partnerships to build broadband infrastructure projects where internet service doesn’t exist or is inadequate. The program optimizes broadband deployment to unserved locations and encourages projects that will expand universal broadband service throughout communities.

Additionally, MCA is announcing three Partnerships for Enabling Middle Mile (PEMM) grant awards approved at the November and December MCA Board Meetings totaling $15.9 million. These awards to three different internet service providers (FirstLight, Consolidated Communications and GWI) will leverage more than $14.2 million in private and community investment, and connect over 18,000 homes and businesses across 18 communities in Maine. The Partnerships Enabling Middle Mile Program addresses large-scale, regional broadband needs by leveraging middle mile infrastructure and maximizing private and community financial contributions to enable last-mile connections.

As of December 2023, the Maine Connectivity Authority has facilitated over $145 million in digital equity and infrastructure investments, enabling over 77,000 connections across the state and reducing the number of locations with no internet connection to less than 6% of the state.

Quotes from Partners:

Elaine Abbott - Regional Broadband Coordinator, Sunrise County Economic Council

“Fiber connectivity for the very rural Washington County communities of Vanceboro, Lambert Lake, Waite, Talmadge, Topsfield, and Kossuth was only a dream for residents who have long struggled with antiquated infrastructure. As a result of partnerships and MCA funding, residents will finally be able to participate in telehealth, educational opportunities, civic engagement, and the global economy.”

Jack Clukey - Town Manager, Dover Foxcroft

“This broadband project in Dover-Foxcroft and neighboring communities will secure access to affordable, high-speed internet for our residents and businesses and will be greatly beneficial for our community in terms of education, economic development, health care, work-from-home opportunities and much more. It wouldn’t have been possible without our partnerships with local communities, service providers and funding from the Maine Connectivity Authority.”

Joe Meadows - Vice President, Waldo Broadband Corporation

“The Board of Directors of the Waldo Broadband Corporation are thrilled to be awarded this grant in collaboration with Direct Communications, and we appreciate the efforts of the Maine Connectivity Authority as they work to carry out this program and others designed to improve broadband in our state. We are confident that the new broadband network this grant enables will make many opportunities available to the residents of our rural towns, especially in key areas such as jobs, education, and healthcare. We also believe this effort is a shining example of what can be accomplished when government, private enterprise, and grassroots community efforts across cooperating towns come together to solve problems and improve the health and viability of local communities.”

Marybeth Allen - Co-Chair, Orland Broadband Committee

“The Orland Broadband Committee is thrilled to know that our year-long grassroots efforts, our hundreds of volunteer hours, and financial support from our town and county governments have resulted in this successful outcome. We can’t wait for all the unserved and underserved Orland residents to get connected to high-speed fiber optic broadband.”

Jayne Sullivan - Regional Development & Community Liaison, Direct Communications

“Direct Communications is proud of the partnership that has been forged with Waldo Broadband Corporation. We applaud the Maine Connectivity Authority and their work to bridge the digital divide in our state. We recognize that bridging the digital divide requires strong partnerships with the communities we serve and we are ecstatic to have found like-minded organizations to team up with. The availability of fiber broadband is particularly attractive to homeowners, new businesses, and educators. We are excited to witness the growth of the Waldo County area by providing affordable high-speed fiber broadband services.”

Patrick Coughlin - Chief Development Officer, FirstLight
“We are pleased to participate in the Partnerships Enabling Middle Mile program and to partner with the MCA and the Mahoosuc Broadband Committee and towns in the Mahoosuc area to bring state-of-the-art technology to Western Maine. This is great news for the residents of these communities who currently don’t have access to the infrastructure necessary to take advantage of modern communications, telehealth, online education, and entertainment amenities. Reliable broadband is increasingly considered a necessary component in defining a livable community.”

Sarah Davis - Vice President, Market Development, Consolidated Communications

“Consolidated is pleased to be awarded five grants covering 21 communities in Maine. Through its partnership with the Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA) and these rural communities, Consolidated will build a fiber network providing 2 gigabit capable, future-proof fiber internet service to more than 10,000 homes and businesses. At Consolidated, our mission is to improve how people work and live in the communities we serve. Consolidated’s Fidium Fiber internet service does just that. Thanks to the partnership with MCA, Consolidated is able to make its financial investment in fiber service go even further to connect more unserved and underserved residents in the State.”

Kerem Durdag - CEO, Great Works Internet (GWI)

“This recognition from the Maine Connectivity Authority empowers us to further dedicate ourselves to advancing our mission of extending high-speed fiber optic broadband across Maine. By doing so, we enable communities to actively engage in both societal and economic development, fostering the growth they rightfully deserve.”

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