Consolidated’s fiber rollout in Maine gets $18M boost from NTIA

Consolidated Communications unveiled plans to deploy its Fidium Fiber service to 22,000 rural homes in Maine, with help from a fresh infusion of cash from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

Last week, the NTIA awarded $277.2 million in funding through its Broadband Infrastructure Program for 13 projects across 12 states. Grants included $28.1 million for the ConnectMaine Authority to help fund last mile deployments to more than 11,000 locations statewide.

ConnectMaine said the money will support a new public-private partnership between itself, three towns and three internet service providers – including Consolidated, Axiom Technologies and LCI Fiber Optic Network.

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Consolidated indicated it will receive $18.3 million from ConnectMaine, which it will combine with $5.5 million of its own money to reach its target of 22,000 rural locations. Work will begin in the second half of this year and focus on the areas of Blue Hill Peninsula, Rangeley and Farmington.

A Consolidated representative told Fierce "these specific areas in Maine were not previously included in our build plans.” They will be connected with XGS-PON technology, the representative added.

The operator is currently aiming to deliver fiber to 1.6 million locations by 2025, including 450,000 in Maine. It is targeting the addition of around 400,000 total new passings this year and is already building fiber in Bangor, Portland and Rockland within Maine.

Consolidated CEO Bob Udell recently told Fierce it could go beyond the 1.6 million figure, depending on how many public-private partnerships it is able to strike and how much state and federal funding it is able to secure.

The Consolidated representative told Fierce it does not currently have any pending applications for state or federal funding. However, it does have agreements in place with “numerous communities” across its footprint to deliver connectivity to residents. “We are working with these communities to pursue the funding mechanism that best achieves their community’s desired outcomes, whether it be municipal bond, state grant or federal grant,” the representative said.