$27 million in stimulus funds available for Maine broadband projects in rural areas

By Ramona du Houx - January 23rd, 2010 ·

The Obama administration comes through with $4.8 billion in stimulus funds is available in a second round of grants and loans to expand broadband access in rural areas across the country.

“Maine has recently received nearly $27 million to improve its broadband infrastructure, and now there could be more on the way,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “This is an exciting opportunity that could create jobs in the short term and keep Maine economically competitive in the long run. With the limited access its rural areas have to high-speed Internet, Maine is an excellent candidate for this funding.”

In December, Pingree joined Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in Orono to announce a $25 million grant to install high-speed fiber-optic cable in rural areas of Maine, improving Internet access to 110,000 households. And earlier this month, the Department of Commerce also announced $1.8 million to map the state’s broadband network to identify underserved areas and pave the way for expansion.

The majority of this second-round funding will target “Last Mile” and “Middle Mile” projects. “Last Mile” projects directly provide broadband service to users and individual households while “Middle Mile” projects—the next level in the infrastructure—create hubs for the “last mile” hookups.

The U.S. Department of Commerce and USDA Rural Development are taking applications for the funding from February 16-March 15, 2010, and expect to announce the awards by September 30, 2010.