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Maine to Invest $128M Toward Expanding Broadband Access

Gov. Janet Mills announced $128 million in federal funding will be used by the Maine Connectivity Authority to expand broadband. The funding for this investment comes from the American Rescue Plan.

Maine State Capitol
Over $128 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds will help Maine expand broadband access in the state, according to a Sept. 3 announcement from the office of Gov. Janet Mills.

Each of Maine’s five tribes will also receive $167,000 in funding, according to the release.

“This pandemic has laid bare the dire need for strong connectivity in every part of Maine, and this Federal funding will be a tremendous boon to our efforts to expand affordable, high-speed internet across the state,” Mills said in the release.

This investment into Maine’s broadband will be used by the Maine Connectivity Authority, a public authority established to manage funds for broadband infrastructure. Created in June 2021, the agency is intended to expand on the work of the previously established ConnectMaine Authority in bridging the digital divide.

This investment builds on other recent efforts in the state to expand broadband. For example, a $15 million bond proposal for broadband was led by the governor last year and marked the state’s first investment in over a decade.

The Mills administration is also heading a broadband mapping initiative to help ensure that expansion efforts target areas that need it.

Mills also utilized $5.6 million in CARES Act relief funds in partnership with Internet service providers to build infrastructure across rural Maine.

The funding from ARP’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund is projected to be paired with funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that recently passed in the U.S. Senate, which is expected to invest $65 billion into the nation’s broadband.

Sen. Angus King, who is co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, helped secure the ARP funding. Along with Sens. Patty Murray and Rob Portman, King introduced the Digital Equity Act of 2021 that is currently included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

“These American Rescue Plan funds, combined with the investments included in the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure deal, are a major step towards ensuring that every Maine person — regardless of where they live — can access the opportunities provided by a broadband connection,” said King.

Other states, including Missouri and Virginia, have also announced investments into broadband through ARP funding.