Maine Leads Nation with First Plan To Close the Digital Divide

Maine is the first state in the country to have its Digital Equity Plan approved by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The plan outlines the steps the state will take to expand access to high-speed, reliable internet and break down barriers to connections, especially for populations most impacted by the digital divide. Its approval is the first step for Maine to qualify for Digital Equity Act funding, resulting in an estimated allocation between $12 million and $14 million. The allocations and details will be released by NTIA later in 2024. Strategies outlined in Maine’s plan include:

  1. Improve access to broadband through grant funding for local and regional infrastructure projects;
  2. Sustain and grow Maine’s investment in digital equity by establishing the Maine Digital Equity Fund, which will raise $15 million in philanthropic support and be matched by additional investment from the federal government.
  3. Increase affordability of internet service, including increasing enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program, and expanding access to free or low-cost connectivity in affordable housing units;
  4. Secure at least 25,000 donated devices for refurbishment from businesses, institutions, and agencies statewide;
  5. Ensure access to affordable devices (desktops, laptops, tablets) and technical support by distributing 50,000 new and refurbished devices to Mainers who need them;
  6. Improve Mainers’ digital skills through outreach and training;
  7. Help Mainers stay safe online by providing internet safety training; and
  8. Make it easier to access government resources and programs online.

Maine Leads Nation with First Plan To Close the Digital Divide Maine Becomes First State to Have Digital Equity Plan Accepted