Infrastructure grants will bring universal service to the towns of Alna, Alton, Bowdoinham, and Cambridge
By Ramona du Houx
ConnectME Authority announced today that its board has approved $731,775 in grants to eight communities across Maine for broadband infrastructure and planning. ConnectME is providing infrastructure grants to the communities of Alna, Alton, Bowdoinham, and Cambridge, bringing fiber optic service to 867 locations in those four communities. The grants are matched by $1,473,130 from the communities being served and the ISP building out the broadband service.
ConnectME is also providing $89,275 in grants to Argyle, Swans Island, Franklin County and the Western Lakes region of Kennebec County for community planning. These grants are designed to help engage communities, identifying needs and engage potential broadband service providers to expand the availability of broadband to their area. These grants are matched by $120,000 from the communities seeking funding.
“Broadband is critical to spur innovation, create opportunity, and build a strong, diverse economy – especially in rural Maine,” said Governor Janet Mills. “One of the highest priorities of my Administration is to expand our state’s broadband infrastructure and these grants from ConnectME are a positive step in that direction by leveraging local and private investment to bring high-speed connectivity to these communities.”
“High speed Internet is no longer a luxury, but a necessity,” said Rep. Berry, Bowdionham, House Chair of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee added. “ While my own constituents are now served, many Mainers still lack access to opportunities for business, healthcare, and education that require fast, reliable upload and download speeds. This is the critical importance of the state’s Connect ME Authority to improve our prosperity and quality of life.”
Governor Mills’ budget, as proposed and passed, increases funding for ConnectME by $1.9 million, beginning in January of 2020. The Governor’s bond package, which still awaits Legislative approval, also includes $30 million dedicated to the expansion of broadband.
The ConnectME Authority was created by the Governor Baldacci administration, with the legislature in 2006 to make a secure, reliable, competitive and forward-looking broadband infrastructure be broadband service universally available. It is funding by a small assessment on land lines and broadband services to customers in Maine, with an annual budget of just over $1,000,000.