ConnectME looks for creative solutions for expanding affordable broadband service to the unserved areas of Maine. 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 or community, of bringing affordable access from an existing location to unserved homes and businesses, which then pay a monthly access fee to that service provider.
To apply for a ConnectME Infrastructure grant you must be in an unserved area. Unserved by definition is less than 25/3 Mbps which was set by the Authority in April of 2018. The build to requirement of 10/10 Mbps was set by the Authority in 2015.
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 2018, the Authority has awarded 146 grants totaling $12.33 million through a process that solicits, scores, and awards bids from public-private partnerships.