SKOWHEGAN — More than 11,000 homes and businesses in the Skowhegan area now have access to faster internet, thanks to an $8.8 million grant funded in part by federal dollars.

Fidium Fiber, a brand of Consolidated Communications Holdings Inc., is now offering its high-speed fiber internet service in parts of Skowhegan, Madison, Anson, Canaan and Cornville, the company announced in a news release.

The upgraded service comes amid ongoing efforts — and an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars — to bring faster internet service to communities across Maine.

The “symmetrical, multi-gigabit fiber internet” with speeds from 100 Mbps to 2 Gigs, or 2,000 Mbps, promises several benefits for the five communities, officials said in the release.

“Now that the project for building the main fiber lines throughout Skowhegan is finishing up and Consolidated starts to sign up homeowners to make the final fiber connection to the homes, we are starting to see a growing excitement from the citizens,” Jeff Hewett, Skowhegan’s director of community and economic development, said in a statement. “This project will help all citizens from the elderly with health issues, to students working on schoolwork and everyone in between to access new online resources.”

Fidium Fiber does not require contracts, installation fees or data caps, according to the company. It provides coverage to more than 250,000 customers statewide.

The $8.8 million grant was awarded to Consolidated, in partnership with the five towns, by the Maine Connectivity Authority’s “Connect the Ready” grant program earlier this year, the release said.

So far, 9,300 households and businesses have benefited from upgrades through those grants, said Andrew Butcher, the agency’s president.

MCA, a quasi-governmental agency, is allocating up to $20 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for those grants, according to its website. In total, the Biden administration will send $272 million to Maine to expand high-speed internet access, it announced earlier this year.

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