Jun 9, 2023
Press Release: Maine Connectivity Authority Releases Draft 5-Year Broadband Action Plan for Feedback
New Broadband Action Plan will guide the investment of $200+ million in federal funding for digital equity and infrastructure
AUGUSTA – After months of community engagement, a statewide survey, numerous public meetings and a series of focus groups, a draft of the State’s five-year Broadband Action Plan is available for public review and feedback.
Produced by the Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA), the Broadband Action Plan identifies priorities for investment in broadband and digital equity and will serve as the State’s five-year road map to bring the economic, health, educational and social benefits of high-speed internet to all Mainers. This plan will also guide the investment of more than $200 million that Maine will receive from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) as part of the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program.
The public comment period is open until June 30 and is an opportunity for Mainers to ensure their voices and priorities are considered as part of a “Reflect and Revise” period. The final version of the plan will be submitted to the federal government by August 1st.
“The draft Broadband Action Plan was developed through an extensive public outreach campaign, powered by community partners across the state,” said Andrew Butcher, president of the Maine Connectivity Authority. “With over 4,000 points of engagement, individuals, businesses, nonprofits and community organizations have contributed to this plan. Now, we want to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to comment on this draft and help us finalize our five-year action plan.”
The Broadband Action Plan identifies existing state assets and needs, while offering an overview of the availability of broadband in Maine. As of December 2022, an estimated 24% of Mainers have access to broadband service, while 76% of Mainers do not. Based on evolving data, about 42,000 Mainers have no internet service, and another 52,000 have unreliable and slow internet service. For many Mainers, high-speed internet is unaffordable.
The draft plan identifies six goals to improve access to high-speed internet in Maine:
1. Prioritize funding to maximize impact, while balancing urgency, universality and equity;
2. Drive investments through improved funding opportunities;
3. Optimize broadband development by decreasing barriers to delivering broadband at scale;
4. Expand and enhance digital equity through targeted programs;
5. Focus on affordability; and
6. Raise awareness and drive demand for services by understanding how people need and want to use the internet.
MCA also released a first-ever standalone Digital Equity Plan for the State. Maine opted to integrate the digital equity and Broadband Action Plan process so digital equity would be woven throughout. Many insights and data from the Digital Equity Plan also appear in the Broadband Action Plan, and those providing feedback will have the option to review one, or both of the plans.
The draft Broadband Action Plan and Digital Equity Plan can be found at: https://www.maineconnectivity.org/planning.
Comments can be submitted at: https://forms.gle/s8sJo33gKa5LdzRZ9
In addition, the following in-person and online listening sessions are scheduled:
- June 15: virtual (https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwtf-CpqzkiGdwiqPJcu_xF6OWDzQeUxp3h#/registration)
- June 26: virtual (https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcvd-2gqz8qH9S3Ad-USAv1aQTDHUE90lTU#/registration)
- June 30: in-person in Machias (https://www.maineconnectivity.org/bap-rr-machias)
An implementation timeline covering the next two years of the BEAD Program is available below.