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Mar 23, 2023

Spectrum invests $82M in Maine to expand broadband internet

MCA attended a press conference in Augusta where Charter Communications announced its investment of over $80 million into broadband across Maine. By supporting public-private partnerships that leverage local resources with private investment, we can continue to enable a thriving and competitive broadband market in Maine that can address our goals of universal, affordable connectivity for everyone as soon as possible.

MAINE, USA — Charter Communications, Inc., also known as Spectrum, announced Thursday it has invested around $82 million in the state of Maine.

The company said in a news release the investment is part of a "companywide network evolution that will enable the delivery of symmetrical and multiple gigabit speeds across the state."

The investment, fully funded by Charter, is expected to be "substantially complete across the company’s Maine service area, which comprises more than 700,000 homes and businesses, by the end of 2025," according to the news release.

In addition to the $70 million investment, Charter also announced Thursday an additional $12 million commitment that aims to further rural broadband expansion in the state.

The company said it hopes the additional $20 million will provide gigabit-speed broadband access to more than 3,500 unserved small businesses and homes in several Somerset, Penobscot and Franklin County towns.

"And the company also announced an agreement to acquire assets of Madison, Maine-based Bee Line Cable and launch its suite of Spectrum-branded connectivity services in communities currently served by Bee Line, bringing broadband speed and service enhancements to thousands of its Somerset, Franklin, and Penobscot County customers," the release said Thursday.

At a press conference at the Maine State House Thursday, Charter representatives were met with state workers from the Maine Connectivity Authority. Its president, Andrew Butcher said Maine faces unique challenges to internet access.

"We have a big problem to solve in Maine. We live in a big state with not a lot of people in it," Butcher said. "We need to employ all solutions to the table."

“In today’s world, broadband isn’t a luxury – it’s fundamental for our people and our economy. Spectrum’s substantial investment will help thousands of Maine people gain the reliable internet connection they need to work, study, start a business, see a doctor and keep in touch with friends and family,” Gov. Janet Mills said in the release. “I thank Spectrum for its commitment to Maine and for its continued partnership as our state works aggressively to reach my goal of ensuring that everyone who wants a reliable internet connection can have one by the end of 2024.”

The company said Thursday it expects to close on the Bee Line transaction soon and is planning to "invest millions in its network and operations in communities currently served by Bee Line."

"When its suite of Spectrum services is launched, consumers will have access to starting broadband speeds of 300 Mbps—10 times faster than Bee Line’s base offering—as well as gigabit options (double the fastest speed offered by Bee Line) and Spectrum Mobile™ service offering unlimited lines for just $29.99/month," the release said.

For Maine school districts, the announcement is a welcome sign as many reported students not having adequate internet access.

"You could tell when I was talking with families they were very frustrated," Chris Hollingsworth, the curriculum coordinator for RSU 73, which covers some of Franklin Count, said.

Hollingsworth said before the district got funding for hot spots, students had to work on homework and attend class on their phones.

"[Broadband] would make things much more reliable, especially with the push to more remote days when there is bad weather," Hollingsworth said.

Hollingsworth added teachers would also be interested in this investment as many don't have adequate internet access to teach at home.

The network design for the new gigabit-speed broadband access has already been completed, and construction is expected to begin in the coming months depending on the completion of permitting and utility-pole attachment applications, according to Charter.

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