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July 14, 2022

Maine will receive $110M for high-speed internet access in rural areas

Maine will receive $110 million in federal funds to provide high-speed internet access for remote locations in the state’s rural counties, federal officials announced Thursday morning.

The funding will go to Maine Infrastructure Ready, a competitive broadband infrastructure grant program administered by the Maine Connectivity Authority, a quasi-governmental agency created last year. The program is expected to bring high-speed internet connections to 22,500 households across the state. 

Maine was one of four states approved Thursday by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to receive money from the American Rescue Plan's Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund. The other states are Kansas, Maryland and Minnesota.

The CPF provides $10 billion to states, territories, and Tribal governments to fund critical capital projects that enable work, education, and health monitoring in response to the pandemic. 

“The pandemic upended life as we knew it — from work to school to connecting with friends and family — and exposed the stark inequity in access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet in communities across the country, but especially in rural, Tribal, and low-income communities,” said Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo. “This funding will lay the foundation for the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investments to increase access to high-speed internet and reduce broadband bills for American households and businesses.” 

Maine ranks No. 45 in the country among states with the best internet access, according to U.S. News and World Report. Nevada is No. 1 and New Mexico ranks last.

The plans by the four states approved Thursday will support broadband infrastructure that is designed to deliver reliable internet service that meets or exceeds download and upload speeds of 100 megabits per second. Such speeds are needed for a household with multiple users to simultaneously access the internet to telework and access education and health monitoring. 

The priority is to connect families and businesses with poor and inadequate service, particularly those in rural and remote areas. 

In accordance with Treasury’s guidance, each state’s plan requires service providers to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s new Affordable Connectivity Program. The ACP helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare, and more by providing a discount of up to $30 per month or up to $75 per eligible household on Tribal lands. 

The FCC estimates that about 48 million families are eligible for the program, or nearly 40% of households. 

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris recently announced that their administration had secured commitments from 20 leading internet service providers, covering more than 80% of the U.S. population, to offer all ACP-eligible households high-speed, high-quality internet plans for no more than $30 per month. 

As a result, these households will receive internet access at no cost, helping to close the digital divide for millions of Americans who could not previously have afforded internet service. 

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