Regional Broadband project
$8.1 million in new investment for high-speed broadband approved for 11 towns in the Greater East Grand Region
After two years of community-based planning, Fidium Fiber has received $8.1 million from the Maine Connectivity Authority to expand high-speed broadband services across the Greater East Grand Region. 7 municipalities and 4 communities in unorganized territories – Bancroft, Brookton, Danforth, Drew Plt, Glenwood Plt, Haynesville, Forest, Forest City, Orient, Reed Plt, and Weston – will have new fiber broadband service within the next eighteen months.
The Greater East Grand Region is a citizen-designated, cross-jurisdictional economic and community development region with communities scattered across southern Aroostook, northern Washington and remote eastern Penobscot counties. Geography, heritage, the local economy, East Grand School, East Grand Health Center, and the Danforth service center connect the people in this underserved, remote part of Maine. Additional information about the region is at www.eastgrandregion.org.
“This is really the first significant regional collaboration for a complex infrastructure challenge with lots of moving parts. The broadband committee members final recommendations to the individual towns reflect their ability to balance local, financial realities with long-term economic development goals” says Dwayne Young, GEGR Broadband Committee chair.
“Fidium Fiber is excited to bring high-speed internet to rural unserved regions of Maine such as the East Grand Region because it is essential to improve the lives of citizens that live and work in these areas. Fidium has expanded fiber-to-the-premise service to more than 136,000 homes and businesses in Maine so far, and we are continuing our expansion through our own funds, and with support from programs like the Connect the Ready grant program.” Sarah Davis, Vice President Government Relations and Wholesale Strategies. Sarah Strickland, Interim Director for the Greater East Grand Economic Council, shares that “there have been many elements that have made the committee’s work possible including: the original community planning framework from Island Institute; the planning grant funds from ConnectME, Maine Community Foundation, Maine Broadband Coalition, Danforth, Weston, Reed Plt, Washington County TIF, and Aroostook County UT; the technical expertise provided by Mission Broadband to coordinate and analyze ISP proposals for the region; Fidium Fiber’s goal to build a new fiber network across the region; and the interest by each town’s leaders in their future wellbeing.”
The Greater East Grand Economic Council’s mission is to be a catalyst and advance the economic well-being of the people living in the region by providing economic development assistance to the widely distributed communities situated in a distressed and remote area of Eastern Maine. The broadband planning project is the council’s first major initiative to help these small communities achieve more by working together. Other goals include local small business growth, workforce development, youth and family resilience, and recreational tourism.
$34 Million Awarded to Expand Broadband through the Connect the Ready Program
Maine Connectivity Authority Grants Support Expansion of Reliable, High-Speed Internet in 31 Communities
AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Connectivity Authority today announced more than $34 million in grant funding to expand access to high-speed, reliable and affordable internet across Maine. The Connect the Ready grants are the single largest investment in Maine’s broadband infrastructure to date, will provide broadband service to more than 16,000 homes and businesses and will leverage over $17 million in private investment from communities and service providers. The 12 funded projects cover 31 communities across nine counties.
“Expanding access to high-speed internet is critical to businesses and families in Maine,” said Andrew Butcher, president of the Maine Connectivity Authority. “Today’s grant announcements are one more part of Maine’s commitment to making sure that everyone in the state who wants it has access to broadband technology. We are proud to support the hard work of committed local partners and service providers. 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.”
Connect the Ready is a competitive grant program that encourages public/private partnerships and collaboration to build broadband infrastructure in unserved or underserved areas of the state. The Maine Connectivity Authority received 29 grant applications for this round of funding, with requests of more than $102 million. MCA will announce the next Connect the Ready grant round later 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. “The projects that will receive grant awards today were those that are best positioned to move forward in areas of greatest need. We look forward to working with other applicants to strengthen their proposals, so they are competitive for the next round of awards later this year. The interest in this program is amazing. Communities are engaged and working hard to serve their residents and local businesses.”
Approved Projects and Grant Amounts:
$1,556,059 – Town of Abbot + Premium Choice Broadband (also covering portions of Parkman, Guilford)
$966,912 – Town of Arrowsic + Axiom Technologies
$705,866 – Town of Bowerbank + Premium Choice Broadband (also covering portions of Sebec)
$2,292,601 – Town of Bradford + Premium Choice Broadband (also covering portions of Charleston)
$3,040,838 – Towns of Brooks and Waldo + Unitel/Direct Communication
$1,137,842 – Town of Clifton + Premium Choice Broadband (also covering portions of Bradley, Eddington)
$8,133,267 – Greater East Grand Economic Council + Consolidated Communications (including portions of Danforth, Drew Plt, Glenwood Plt, Orient, Reed Plt, Weston)
$2,172,890 – Town of Greenville + Premium Choice Broadband (also covering portions of Beaver Cove, Shirley, and the Unorganized Townships of Lily Bay and Frenchtown)
$8,827,148 – Town of Skowhegan + Consolidated Communications (also including portions of Madison, Cornville, and Canaan)
$1,697,997 – Town of Swan’s Island + TDS Telecommunications
$2,229,396 – Town of Vienna + Axiom Technologies
$1,247,609 – Town of Willimantic + Premium Choice Broadband (also covering portions of townships of Blanchard and Elliottsville)
Additional program information and a complete listing of approved projects and grant amounts can also be found on MCA’s website.
Connect the Ready is part of the comprehensive suite of MCA’s All-In Programs, which are funded by a $150 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act’s Capital Projects Fund and the Maine Jobs and Recovery Program. This represents a tenfold increase over any past investment in Maine’s broadband infrastructure. The All-In programs are designed to reach the last mile in the most rural places, connect communities ready to scale their infrastructure, prepare communities for investment, ensure affordable options for everyone, and invest in partnerships to build a modern broadband infrastructure for Maine.
Established in 2021, the Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA) is a quasi-governmental agency charged with achieving universal access to affordable high-speed broadband in Maine and is designed to proactively address the state’s connectivity needs while managing the unprecedented influx of funding for the development of the state’s broadband infrastructure.