September 03, 2021
BRUNSWICK, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, applauded an announcement that the U.S. Treasury Department is allocating more than $128 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to expand Maine broadband. These funds are drawn from the ARP’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, which was secured by Senator King in the final legislation, and passed 50-49 with the Senator’s vote. In addition to $128,245,250 in broadband funding for the state, each of Maine’s five tribes will receive $167,000 in funding.
Combined with the broadband funds Maine is projected to receive from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act upon House passage – the state will receive hundreds of millions of dollars to increase affordable, high-speed broadband access statewide and narrow Maine’s digital divide.
“The American Rescue Plan is bringing more than $128 million in broadband funding to Maine, which will create new opportunities for people throughout our state – especially in rural areas,” said Senator King. “It is clear as day that a high-speed, affordable broadband connection is fundamental to participating in the 21st century economy. Too many Maine families have been forced to go without this vital tool – watching economic opportunities disappear, struggling to access their education, and missing out on convenient ways to access critical healthcare. These American Rescue Plan funds, combined with the investments included in the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure deal, are a major step towards ensuring that every Maine person – regardless of where they live – can access the opportunities provided by a broadband connection. My colleagues and I worked hard to include these funds in the American Rescue Plan, and I’m glad to see the bill will continue to meet the needs of Maine people.”
“Thanks to the hard work of Senator King, Maine will be in a position to make significant gains in ending the digital divide,” said Peggy Schaffer, Director of the ConnectMaine Authority. “Communities and Internet Service Providers all across Maine have been diligently planning to address their broadband needs. We can now take action to implement those plans. The funding provided in the Capital Projects Fund of the American Rescue Plan allows us to shift our thinking from one of scarcity to one where almost everyone in Maine will be able to get a high quality broadband connection over the next three to four years. We are deeply grateful for the work and the focus Senator King has provided in addressing this critical infrastructure need.”
Senator King also worked to secure broadband funds in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which is being considered in the House and will invest $65 billion in broadband infrastructure across the nation. The legislation’s broadband provisions include over $40 billion in block grants to states and $2 billion for tribal governments, mirroring the bipartisan BRIDGE Act introduced by Senators King, Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) earlier this year.
The IIJA also includes Senator King’s Digital Equity Act, investing $2.75 billion in an array of projects at the state and local level that promote “digital equity.”
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 – and has raised the issue consistently during the coronavirus pandemic. The March edition of Senator King’s “Inside Maine” podcast focused on this historic investment during a conversation with Tilson Technologies’ Josh Broder, and Pew Charitable Trusts’ Kathryn de Wit. Senator King has also urged the Biden Administration to update federal standards for high-speed broadband to reflect modern uses, calling for updating the definition of high-speed broadband to 100 megabits per second of upload and download speed.