In today’s world, access to affordable, high-speed internet is as fundamental as electricity, heat, and water. So, if we want a strong economy and thriving state, we’ve simply got to have it.
Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.
Well, since I’ve taken office, we have worked very hard to expand affordable, high-speed broadband across Maine, especially in rural areas.
And in 2021, I signed landmark legislation to create the Maine Connectivity Authority. That’s a new organization—a new entity—focused on ensuring that every person in our state can access and afford a quality internet connection in order to work, to study, run a business, visit family, or get health care remotely.
In the two years since I signed that legislation, the Connectivity Authority has used state and federal funds to connect over 53,000 homes and businesses to the internet. I’m very proud of that progress and I have promised the Maine people that whoever who wants a high-speed, reliable internet connection will be able to access it by the end of next year.
We are making progress towards modernizing our internet infrastructure thanks to a $272 million grant Maine received under the Biden Administration’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment, or BEAD, Program from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law supported by our Congressional Delegation. That’s the largest grant award Maine has ever received to build out our broadband internet network.
The Connectivity Authority is working hard to expand broadband access across Maine, but an important part of that effort is making sure Maine people can afford it as well.
That’s why the Affordable Connectivity Program, or ACP, is also very important.
Also created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and it made more than 230,000 households in Maine eligible to receive a discount on their broadband bill every month.
So far, about 94,000 Maine families have enrolled. And that’s good news, but the funding for this important program could run out next April unless Congress acts.
In short: the households in Maine that just gained access to affordable internet could lose it.
That’s why, earlier this week, I joined twenty-five of my fellow governors on both sides of the aisle to urge Congress to provide more funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program.
In our joint letter, we wrote that “Closing our nation’s digital divide transcends politics. Whether you live in a rural area, a suburb, or a city, every American needs access to high-speed internet. Preserving the ACP will allow us to build upon the progress we’ve made in expanding connectivity rather than falling behind in a mission we cannot afford to lose.”
So, I will keep pushing along with my fellow governors for more funding for the ACP, but in the meantime, every eligible Maine family should enroll to get a discount of up to $30 a month on their internet bill. Eligibility is based on income – for example, if you are a family of four and your household income is less than $80,000, you qualify for this discount.
You can find out more information about how to enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program, or ACP, at getacp.org/maine – that’s getacp.org/maine.
By connecting every corner of Maine to high-speed, reliable, and affordable broadband, we’ll make our state one of the most competitive and desirable places in the world to live, work, and raise a family. We’re making progress toward reaching that goal, because of critical federal funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
I will continue to stand with my fellow governors in fighting for the federal funding we need to ensure that every American, including people across Maine, can access affordable internet.
This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.