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Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, January 17, 2019
Brooksville, Deer Isle awarded community broadband grants

by Anne Berleant

The Maine Community Foundation has awarded $15,000 to Brooksville to assist with the digital literacy component of the town’s overall broadband project, and $15,000 to Deer Isle to conduct planning and preliminary engineering for extending broadband internet service to all residents and businesses.

MCF’s new Community Broadband Grant Program aims to “increase the number of Maine people, communities, and businesses with access to high-speed internet service and improve skills, knowledge, and opportunity to effectively use the technology,” according to a press release.

Wiring a town for broadband can cost millions, with the total cost for the expansion needed for rural Maine projected at $150 million, according to ConnectME, the state broadband authority.

Like other peninsula towns, Brooksville and Deer Isle have an active broadband committee and are working on Requests For Information seeking proposals to design and enhance broadband capabilities. Both towns are members of Peninsula Utility for Broadband, a citizen-driven group that advocates for “fast, flexible, affordable and reliable internet” in local communities, according to its website peninsulautility4broadband.org.

The two grants are part of a total $130,000 that MCF Community Broadband Program awarded to six towns and five organizations across Maine.

“Increasingly, quality of life—and communication—for Maine people, communities, and businesses is improved by the ability to access reliable, affordable high-speed internet,” said Maggie Drummond-Bahl, MCF senior program officer. “We are proud to be one of many partners helping to boost local and regional efforts to improve connectivity across Maine.”