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$300 million in broadband grants hailed as transformational for rural Maine

Jason Morisseau, a installation and maintenance technician with Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom, uses a fusion splicer to install fiber optic cable that is being run to a home, in Concord, Vt., Feb. 10, 2022.
Wilson Ring
/
AP file
Jason Morisseau, a installation and maintenance technician with Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom, uses a fusion splicer to install fiber optic cable that is being run to a home, in Concord, Vt., Feb. 10, 2022.

Maine officials are describing more than $300 million in new broadband grants as a transformational effort that could revitalize rural Maine.

"Today's announcement is the most important infrastructure investment in Maine since the construction of Interstate 95, 50 years ago, 60 years ago," said independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine.

At an event in Augusta on Thursday, King said that the new federal grants will bring affordable broadband access for thousands of Mainers, and allow more people to work remote jobs from rural communities.

"People can live in Dover-Foxcroft Maine, and work in Seattle. They can live in Augusta, and work in Los Angeles. They can live in Meddybemps, and work in Kansas City," he said.

The state has received two federal grants this month. A $30 million grant will add 530 miles of new fiber optic lines across more than 130 communities.

And the state says a $272 million award announced this week will bring affordable internet access to all of Maine over the next five years.

Officials say they expect that all Maine residents will have an internet connection by the end of 2024.