Governor Mills Announces Federal Approval of Maine’s Plan to Invest Historic Broadband Infrastructure Funding

Approval allows Maine to access $272 million for broadband infrastructure made available by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Governor Janet Mills announced today that the Biden-Harris Administration has approved Maine’s plan to invest $272 million in federal funds to expand access to high-speed, reliable, and affordable internet across the state.

The funds awarded to Maine from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – first announced last year – is the largest grant award the state has ever received to expand internet access.

Today’s approval of Maine’s plan by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will allow the Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA) to utilize the historic investment as it works to expand connectivity across the state.

“Reliable internet access is a critical part of ensuring rural states like Maine can fully participate in our modern, globally connected economy. With this approval, Maine can now put historic Federal funds to use to bring the internet to more people in Maine, unlocking new opportunities in commerce, education, telemedicine and more,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I thank President Biden and the Maine Congressional Delegation for their hard work to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which made this historic investment possible. My Administration and the Maine Connectivity Authority will continue our aggressive work to make an internet connection available to every person in Maine who wants one.”

“Our state has made tremendous progress connecting people to more reliable, faster and affordable internet,” said Maine Connectivity Authority President Andrew Butcher. “We’ve led the way on digital equity, helping veterans, seniors and older Mainers get online, and are now one critical step closer to making the most of this historic investment to bridge the digital divide.”

As a result of today’s approval, MCA will begin a subgrantee selection process in the coming months. An application process is expected to open this fall. Following that process, MCA will submit a final proposal to NTIA detailing how the distribution of funds will allow Maine to achieve universal connectivity. MCA’s final proposal must be submitted to the NTIA within one year of today’s announcement.

Access to BEAD funding will build on the progress made since 2021 when Governor Mills signed bipartisan legislation creating the Maine Connectivity Authority to advance the deployment of affordable, high-speed broadband access across Maine. As of June 2024, the agency has facilitated over $140 million in investments to enable over 70,000 connections across the state. This public funding has been matched with over $80 million in private and community investment, ensuring that more than 70% of Maine’s unserved locations have been addressed since 2020.

Maine’s funds will be deployed in alignment with Maine’s, BEAD Initial Proposals, five-year Broadband Action Plan and the State’s first Digital Equity Plan, developed by the Maine Connectivity Authority in partnership with thousands of stakeholders across the state in 2023. The plans can be found on the Maine Connectivity Authority’s website.

The $42.45 billion BEAD program, authorized by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is a cornerstone of the Biden-Harris Administration’s “Internet for All” Initiative to ensure that everyone in America has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet.