Leveraging funds from an $18.3 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Consolidated Communications plans to deliver Fidium fiber internet to 22,000 rural Maine homes and businesses through a public/private partnership with Connect Maine.
Connect Maine was awarded funding through the NTIA Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP), which is open to partnerships between public entities and commercial operators.
Consolidated Communications has quite a lot of experience with public-private partnerships, and has completed 20 community network builds to date, with more planned. The completed projects connect 34,000 rural homes and businesses in the states of Maine, New Hampshire, and New York, according to the company.
The NTIA grant, combined with a company investment of $5.5 million will be used to bring broadband fiber to homes and businesses on Blue Hill Peninsula, the Rangeley area and the town of Farmington. This is only one area of the state lagging in terms of broadband internet service. Maine currently ranks 32nd among the states in terms of broadband access.
“Consolidated Communications is thrilled to be part of this partnership with Connect Maine, which will enable us to expand Fidium fiber internet to even more unserved rural areas of Maine,” said Erik Garr, Consolidated Communications president of consumer and small business, in a prepared statement about the Consolidated public/private partnership. “This public-private partnership enables broadband connectivity which will result in economic, employment and quality of life benefits, ultimately improving how residents work and live.”
This project adds to Consolidated’s FTTP service, which the company expects to have in more than 70% of its service area by 2025, including fiber networks in Bangor, Portland and Rockland, Maine. By the time all of the Consolidated projects are complete, the company said, it will be able to deliver reliable, high-speed internet to more than 450,000 homes and businesses in the state.