Arctaris Impact Investors, LLC plans to build new fiber broadband networks in unserved and economically distressed rural, urban, and suburban areas, including Opportunity Zones, in the state of Maine, the investment firm announced today.
The investment firm will partner with Great Works Internet (GWI) to deliver internet services to end users, but Arctaris will build and own the networks. GWI is a provider of fiber optic internet service in the state and Maine’s first ISP to be certified as a B Corp., indicating that the company meets higher standards of transparency, accountability and performance, according to a press release.
Also partnering in the public-private project is the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), which is providing 20% leveraged loan insurance and other assistance.
The planned high-speed broadband networks will serve about 12,000 residents and businesses across South Portland, Belfast, Millinocket, East Millinocket and Medway.
Arctaris is involved in a similar project in Colorado. In a partnership with The Colorado Health Foundation, the investment firm has committed $50 million to expand broadband access to 25,000 households and businesses. The Boston, MA-based investment firm has been in the industry more than 12 years and operates six funds, with both debt and Opportunity Zone equity investments.
“Today, more than ever, equitable access to affordable, high-speed internet is crucial to the economic viability of cities and states throughout our country,” said Neil Katz, Arctaris principal, in a prepared statement. “By building fiber-based broadband networks, we are developing the infrastructure necessary to lessen the digital divide in economically distressed areas, which we expect these communities to benefit from for decades to come.”
Arctaris is one of numerous investment firms that have turned their attention to broadband services recently. But the firm is rather unique in investing directly in fiber networks, rather than in companies that build and operate those networks.