AUGUSTA — ConnectMaine Authority has awarded eight Broadband Infrastructure Grants, totaling about $15 million, to expand availability of broadband service in the state. In Waldo County, grants will go to the towns of Northport and Searsport.

According to the April 27 announcement, Northport will receive a grant of $2,189,670 toward costs of $2,938,043 in its project with GWI. Searsport will receive $2,087,464 toward costs of $3,029,664 in its project with Consolidated Communications.

The projects awarded represent a wide spectrum of public-private partnerships to reach about 6,000 in some of the least served areas of the state, according to the ConnectME announcement. The broadband infrastructure resulting from five of the projects will be publicly owned by municipalities or broadband utility districts. Two other projects leverage existing expansion or upgrade projects underway, and involve a national internet service provider and a smaller, Maine-based company.

The other municipalities to be awarded grants are Chebeague Island ($800,000), Leeds ($2.1 million) and Southport ($400,000), all working with Axiom Technologies; Cooper ($400,000) and Princeton ($235,309), working with Pioneer Broadband; and Maine West (Buckfield, Hartford, Hebron and Sumner, $6,815,914), working with GWI.

“Importantly, these projects won’t leave outlying roads or potential subscribers without access to broadband service, according to the announcement,” ConnectME said in the announcement.

Established in 1994, Northport’s partner GWI (Great Works Internet, aka Biddeford Internet Corp.) is a Maine internet service provider that is building an open-access fiber-optic network in the state. In 2020, GWI earned B Corp. certification, the first broadband carrier in the United  States to do so.

Searsport’s partner Consolidated Communications Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSL), based in Mattoon, Illinois, has been providing phone, TV, internet and data services to Maine residential and business customers since it acquired FairPoint Communications Inc. in July 2017.

The ConnectMaine awards are for the most recent window of broadband infrastructure grants. The ConnectMaine Authority Board opened up the application round on Jan. 12 for roughly $15 million in funding, which includes the remaining bond funds and additional funds dedicated from the Maine Connectivity Authority.

In July 2020, Maine voters had approved a state broadband bond of $15 million, of which just over half was awarded in May 2021.

The mission of ConnectMaine is to facilitate the universal availability of broadband to all Maine households and businesses, and to help them understand the role it can play in enriching their lives and helping their communities thrive. More information can be found at maine.govconnectme.