May 25, 2020
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Maine hopes new law will improve rural broadband access

Wilson Ring | AP
Wilson Ring | AP
FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2015, file photo, a microcell sits affixed to the utility pole, right, along state Route 110 in Washington, Vt. Microcells help fill a void in cellular telephone service in rural, hard-to-serve areas. Lawmakers hold a hearing, Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Montpelier on the possibility that a financially troubled company could end rural cell phone service that incorporates these devices, including an end to callers' ability to call 911 from a cell phone. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring, File)

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine has enacted a law that supporters said would expand access to broadband in underserved parts of the state.

The proposal from Democratic Sen. Shenna Bellows is intended to make it easier for communities to get planning grants for broadband. Maine Democrats said the changes will also make it easier to identify parts of Maine where the state needs to invest in better access to high-speed internet.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed the proposal into law on March 18. It requires the state’s ConnectME authority to collect important data annually, Democrats said. It also changes the authority’s planning grant structure to allow for more flexibility and take away barriers to the planning process, they said.

The authority will also be renamed ConnectMaine. The changes go into effect on June 16.

 


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