June 26, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, today celebrated the news that $271 million will be headed to deploy Maine broadband infrastructure from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program. Senator King will join Governor Janet Mills on Thursday morning at the University of Maine Augusta at an event hosted by the Maine Connectivity Authority to formally announce the news.
“Just as rural electrification did in the 1930s, these broadband investments are going to be a game-changer. This technology will help connect thousands of Maine households and businesses to the infrastructure that powers 21st century life, and enable communities across the nation to fully engage in the 21st century economy,” said Senator King. “As remote work becomes more accepted, a high-speed internet connection means an individual can work for any company in the country – so people can choose to work where they live instead of the other way around. These vital investments in construction and deployment will also go a long way towards Maine’s telehealth needs, as more people will be able to monitor their health with medical professionals without long, time-consuming drives across the state.”
Broadband expansion has been one of Senator King’s central priorities since launching his 2012 Senate campaign. As co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, Senator King has been a strong advocate for expanding affordable broadband access as a way to increase economic opportunity in rural Maine – to do away with the “digital divide” holding back millions of Americans.
After Senator King’s advocacy and negotiation, President Biden signed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to invest $65 billion in broadband infrastructure across the nation, with news just last week of $30 million headed to Maine from the “Middle Mile” Broadband Infrastructure Grant program. The IIJA’s historic broadband provisions include over $40 billion in block grants to states and $2 billion for tribal governments, mirroring Senator King’s bipartisan BRIDGE Act and the Digital Equity Act, he championed to invest $2.75 billion in an array of projects at the state and local level that promote “digital equity.”
Combined with the $10 billion in funding for broadband in the American Rescue Plan nationwide – an effort Senator King “spearheaded” – Maine is expected to see more than $400 million for broadband deployment in the upcoming years. Combined with funds appropriated by the State, this investment should allow virtually the entire population of Maine to be connected to high-speed, affordable broadband within the next several years.