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ConnectME Launches Statewide Broadband Action Plan
AUGUSTA - The ConnectME Authority has developed a Statewide Broadband Action Plan in partnership with the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) through collaboration with broadband experts, communities, input from stakeholders and review of models utilized in other states. The Action Plan sets forth initiatives that will ensure Maine‚€™s broadband needs are met within five years of initial funding and envisions meaningful local, state, federal and private-sector investment.
The ConnectME Authority is a public instrumentality of Maine state government, whose mission is to facilitate the universal availability of broadband to Maine households and businesses. Broadband is a key element to many economic and community development goals including business and workforce attraction.
Currently, broadband expansion in Maine is funded through an assessment on consumer land-line phone bills and totals approximately $850,000. While the assessment supports small build-outs and community planning, it will not support statewide expansion.
A federal omnibus bill that includes $600 million for rural broadband nationally was recently passed and will be allocated through USDA Rural Development. Maine is prepared to compete for a portion of that funding. Federal money coupled with state and private investment is an aggressive start to getting Maine businesses and residents connected through infrastructure expansion.
ConnectME and the USDA will be hosting several community meetings to help cities and towns move forward in their broadband expansion process. Those meetings will take place on the following days and at the following locations:
Thursday July 12, 2018: Rumford: 10 a.m. - Town Hall, 145 Congress Street Farmington: 2 p.m. - location pending
Tuesday July 17, 2018: Skowhegan: 10 a.m. - Municipal Council Room, 225 Water Street Dover Foxcroft: 2 p.m. - County Commissioner‚€™s Chambers, 163 E. Main Street
Thursday July 19, 2018: Bucksport: 9 a.m. - Council Chambers, Bucksport Town Office, 50 Main St. Georgetown: 2:30 p.m. - Robinhood Free Meetinghouse, 210 Robinhood Road