Thirty-one communities, including several in Washington County, will get high-speed broadband internet service through $34 million in grants announced by the Maine Connectivity Authority.
The authority said the “Connect the Ready” grants “are the single largest investment in Maine’s broadband infrastructure to date.”
The money will provide broadband service to more than 16,000 homes and businesses. In all, the 12 funded projects cover 31 communities across nine counties.
Of the total, $8.1 million will go to Consolidated Communications to provide services to communities scattered across southern Aroostook, northern Washington and remote eastern Penobscot counties.
The Greater East Grand Economic Council said in an announcement this week that seven municipalities and four communities in unorganized territories will have “new fiber broadband service within the next eighteen months.” The communities are Bancroft, Brookton, Danforth, Drew Plantation, Glenwood Plantation, Haynesville, Forest City, Orient, Reed Plantation, and Weston.
“It really is going to make a huge difference in so many ways,” Sarah Strickland, the council’s interim director, told the Portland Press Herald.
The Press Herald, citing federal data, reported that about 116,000 homes and businesses in Maine — almost 18% of the state — do not have broadband service.
“These grants will help thousands of Maine people conduct business, see a doctor, take classes and take advantage of all the benefits of reliable, affordable broadband,” said Andrew Butcher, president of the Maine Connectivity Authority.
The authority said it expects to announce another round of funding this spring.
“There is an overwhelming demand for support to improve connectivity in Maine. Today, we are taking an important step to expand access, but there is much work to do,” Butcher said in a statement.
The money comes from the American Rescue Plan Act’s Capital Projects Fund and the Maine Jobs and Recovery Program, according to the authority, and leverages over $17 million in private investment from communities and service providers.
For more information, see the announcement by the authority.
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