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Senate passes bill to improve rural access to high-speed internet

Mar 16, 2020

Augusta — The Maine Senate on March 10 voted in support of a bill from Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, to invest in broadband internet infrastructure in rural Maine.

The bill, LD 2021, introduced by Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, would provide $15 million to ConnectME Authority. The measure faces further action in the House and Senate.

In New England, Maine ranks last in the region in terms of access to high-speed internet, according to the latest census data. The funding provided in LD 2021 will allow ConnectME to provide competitive broadband infrastructure grants to underserved communities in Maine

ConnectME is the state agency charged with getting the entire state connected to high-speed internet. According to its 2020 Broadband Action Plan, an estimated 50% of roadways or 17,660 miles are considered underserved.

This state funding would help leverage private and federal funds to facilitate the construction of these broadband infrastructure projects. The state funding essentially serves as seed money to help communities get their projects off the ground. Currently, there are more than 100 communities that have done the planning and are waiting for a broadband infrastructure grant.




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