Maine’s ConnectME Authority on December 21st announced their fourth grant round as part of their broadband infrastructure funding program. The goal is to find creative solutions to provide affordable broadband service to the unserved areas of Maine. This round is requesting smaller, focused proposals with a suggested grant limit for each project of $100,000 and will fund no more than 50 percent of the total project but there is some flexibility for exceptional proposals.
Applicants will need to submit brief, pre-application letters describing a project or projects by January 29, 2010. The pre-application letters will be shared with existing or incumbent broadband service providers for review. This will be done to ensure that the area proposed to be served is an unserved area with no broadband expansion projects planned by other providers in the near term. Secondly, this will also help to encourage collaboration between providers or other grant applications to avoid overlap.
Applicants themselves are also required to communicate with nearby incumbent or existing broadband service providers for current and future plans for expansion in the proposed project area. This is required so that ConnectMe Authority funds will not be used in areas where private investment is or will be used to deliver broadband services.
Pre-application letters also need to include not only the type of service to be provided but detailed information on the technology to be used. Information on the estimated upstream and downstream speeds of the service to be provided and an estimate on the time needed to complete the proposed project needs to be included. In addition, the letter needs to address the percentage of households in the unserved area that will have access to the new service and the estimated number of customers who will benefit.
ConnectME Authority also recommends that applicants find partners among the various providers of broadband services or community-based organizations. The grants may also be used as seed money to get further operational infrastructure installed.
Full application packages may be available by February 15, 2010 with completed applications due March 15, 2010. For more information, go to www.Maine.Gov/ConnectME or call Philip Lindley, Executive Director (207) 624-9970 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.