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Business and Economy

Maine Close To Forming New Broadband Improvement Authority

FCC Broadband
Toby Talbot
FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2007 file photo, A.J. Bowen of Schupp's Line Construction, Inc. works on fiber-optic installation in Norton, Vt.

Gov. Janet Mills is expected to sign a bill establishing a new broadband internet agency.

The House and Senate both voted to create the Maine Connectivity Authority, a group that would be charged with expanding universal high-speed internet access and telecommunications infrastructure.

During a Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues event on Wednesday, Mills told the group she looked forward to signing the bill.

"This authority will be not simply looking at laying fiber underground or on wires, but looking at the affordability of the long term plans, something that we haven't been able to do. What are the month to month costs that Maine ratepayers, Maine consumers can afford?" she said.

Mills says the particular geography, economy, and needs of Maine people have made it difficult to develop a comprehensive plan for improving broadband throughout the state.

The agency may have up to $129 million in broadband related funding from the American Rescue Plan Act at its disposal and will be charged with leveraging additional funding opportunities where available.