Maine will receive $272 million in federal funding over the next five years to expand high-speed internet service, Gov. Janet Mills announced Monday.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration approved Maine’s spending plan for the largest sum ever dedicated to boosting broadband in the state. The award, which was anticipated since last year when federal officials told Maine it was eligible, is part of the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment, or BEAD, program in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The funding is expected to bring high-speed internet to 35,000 homes, businesses and other sites in the state. That would represent the last 5% of locations in Maine where broadband can be installed but is not currently, said Brian Allenby, program operations and communications  director of the Maine Connectivity Authority, the agency in charge of increasing high-speed internet access.

The federal broadband program has set as priorities reaching businesses and residents with speeds of less than 100 megabits per second (Mbps) to download and less than 20 Mbps to upload. Maine will first extend service to all locations with speeds of less than 25 Mbps to download and 3 Mbps to upload, according to the state’s broadband plan.

The Federal Communications Commission in March set a benchmark for high-speed fixed broadband to be defined as download speeds of 100 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps, a fourfold increase from the 25/3 Mbps benchmark it set in 2015.

Maine’s statutory definition of broadband is 100/100 Mbps, and the state’s goal is to provide that level of internet service for “all locations where possible.” Proposed projects for the federal program that can provide service at that level to unserved or underserved locations could get a higher priority in the application process, the Maine Connectivity Authority said.


The agency will begin a selection process in the coming months to award the federal funding. An application process is expected to open this fall, and the state has one year to complete its final proposal and will then submit bids for projects to the federal government, Allenby said.

The first broadband connections will be made in the spring or summer of 2025 if no federal delays occur, he said.

State legislation enacted in 2021 established the Maine Connectivity Authority to advance the deployment of affordable, high-speed broadband access across Maine. As of June 2024, more than $140 million has helped make possible about 70,000 connections across the state.

Public funding has been matched with more than $80 million in private and community investment.

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