ConnectME looks for creative solutions for expanding affordable broadband service to the unserved areas of Maine. For the next round, the ninth round, we will continue to request smaller, focused proposals, with a suggested grant limit for each project of $100,000, funding no more than 50% of the total project, while recognizing that we can be flexible for exceptional proposals. Legislation creating the ConnectME Authority provides for funding from a 0.25% surcharge on instate communications services.
The Authority makes grants for "last mile" infrastructure to provide high-speed internet access to customers in unserved areas of Maine. Specifically, such grants provide a percentage of the cost, matched with funding from an internet service provider, of bringing affordable access from an existing location to unserved homes and businesses, which then pay a monthly access fee to that service provider.
The funding mechanism for the Authority is a 0.25% (one quarter of one percent) surcharge on all communications, video and internet service bills which generates approximately $1.1 million per year. From 2007 through 2015, the Authority has awarded 122 grants totaling nearly $10 million through a process that solicits, scores, and awards bids from public-private partnerships.