Planning Grants

The ConnectME Authority is a component unit of Maine State Government whose mission is to promote use of broadband service by identifying and sharing best practices that encourage use of broadband service, eliminating barriers to use of broadband service and facilitating and supporting public-private partnerships to increase use of broadband. The authority provides funds for broadband planning grants to municipalities, groups of municipalities or nonprofit local or regional community organizations that are providing local or regional economic development programs to develop plans to expand the availability of broadband services in unserved and underserved areas. [1]

The Authority awards funds to communities in two phases:

Phase I

Phase 1 grants are to help to produce plans that define local broadband needs, goals and encourages adoption of identified best practices by participating municipalities and organizations. This is to be a community planning process that identifies how your area is currently served, what your area’s goals are for increased connectivity, what your areas needs for digital literacy and how your planning is going to address those needs.  This Phase is intended to begin the process of building broad community support to expand broadband. Phase I is the foundation for all the work your community will be doing to successfully bring broadband to your area. It is time consuming, and it requires a lot of outreach to almost every constituency that is interested in bringing broadband to your area, including health care, businesses, education, seniors, students and more. Successful grants will propose:

  • a process for inventorying existing broadband infrastructure assets within the municipality, municipalities or regions;
  • include an initial gap analysis defining the additional broadband infrastructure necessary to meet identified needs and goals;
  • an assessment of all municipal procedures, policies, rules and ordinances that have the effect of delaying or increasing the cost of broadband infrastructure deployment are part of the process;
  • and include a strategy to promote digital inclusion that addresses affordable internet, equipment, digital literacy and public computer access. 

[1] Public Law 2015, chapter 93, Part 7, section 9217 http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/35-A/title35-Asec9217.html

 

Phase II

Phase II grants are to bring communities to the next step in their broadband plans. If your community has not completed a Precertification Checklist as part of a previous grant application, you must do so prior to applying for a Phase II grant.  

Successful grants will:

  • provide a comprehensive gap analysis defining the additional broadband infrastructure necessary to meet identified needs and goals from either a Phase I grant or a similar process;
  • propose a process to develop plans that will result in one or more potential network designs and cost estimates;
  • identify operating models and potential business models based on input from broadband providers operating within the municipality, municipalities or region;
  • include information from any other parties that submit a network design solution while you have been developing the plan to address the broadband gaps identified.