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June 5, 2020

ConnectME grants to expand broadband service in rural Maine

The ConnectME Authority announced a new round of infrastructure and planning grants that will bring broadband service to seven Maine communities.

The authority’s board approved $554,500 in infrastructure grants to Argyle, Bremen and Hudson, bringing fiber-optic service to 982 locations in those three communities, according to a news release.

The grants are matched by $1,187,005 from the communities being served and the internet service provider building out the broadband service. 

ConnectME is also providing $53,250 in grants to Swans Island, Litchfield, East Grand Lake Region and Sanford for community broadband planning. The grants are designed to help communities identify needs and engage potential broadband service providers to expand the availability of broadband to their areas. The grants are matched by $63,250 from the communities.

“Broadband is critical to spur innovation, create opportunity, provide telehealth and remote learning, and build a strong, diverse economy, especially in rural Maine,” Gov. Janet Mills said in the release. “The COVID crisis has highlighted the importance of a good high-speed connection for remote work, and supporting small businesses.

"One of the highest priorities of my administration is to expand our state’s broadband infrastructure. These grants from ConnectME are a step in that direction by leveraging local and private investment to bring high-speed connectivity to these communities.” 

Bremen fiber

Bremen $120,000 grant will support Nobleboro-based Tidewater Telecom’s build-out of 25 miles of fiber optic cable.

The infrastructure will make Bremen the first mainland town in the midcoast region to become a 100% fiber-to-the-home community, according to a separate release.

The build-out will bring high-speed broadband to approximately 400 unserved homes and businesses. Tidewater will invest $480,435 of its own capital into the project. The town will provide in-kind services valued at $18,455.

Tidewater will assemble its project team in July and begin accepting applications from the 400 unserved homes in Bremen later this summer, with plans to begin construction of the fiber optic network this fall and winter. The fiber build-out to all 400 sites is expected to be complete by June 30, 2021. 

The ConnectME Authority was created by the Maine Legislature in 2006 to develop a secure, reliable and competitive broadband infrastructure and to make broadband service universally available in the state. The authority is funded by a small assessment on landlines and broadband services to customers in Maine, with an annual budget of just over $1.5 million.

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