An Act To Encourage Broadband Deployment in Unserved Areas
Sec. 1. 35-A MRSA §9202, as amended by PL 2015, c. 284, §2, is further amended to read:
§ 9202. Definitions
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
Sec. 2. 35-A MRSA §9203, sub-§7 is enacted to read:
Sec. 3. 35-A MRSA §9204-A, sub-§1, as enacted by PL 2015, c. 284, §7, is repealed.
Sec. 4. 35-A MRSA §9204-A, sub-§4, as enacted by PL 2015, c. 284, §7, is amended to read:
Sec. 5. 35-A MRSA §9211, as enacted by PL 2005, c. 665, §3, is amended to read:
§ 9211. ConnectME Fund
Sec. 6. 35-A MRSA §9211-A, as enacted by PL 2015, c. 323, §1, is repealed.
Sec. 7. 35-A MRSA §9211-B is enacted to read:
§ 9211-B. Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program
(1) Evidence demonstrating the applicant's experience and ability in building, operating and managing broadband service networks serving residential customers;
(2) A description of the project area, including a list of census blocks covered by the proposed project. If a census block included in an application already is partially served by a provider of broadband service, the application must describe the portions of the census block that are already served and the portions of the census block that constitute an unserved area or underserved area and must include a certification that none of the grant funding provided by the program for the project proposed in the application will be used to extend or deploy facilities to a household that is already served by a provider of broadband service;
(3) A description of the advanced communications technology infrastructure that is proposed to be deployed, including facilities, equipment and network capabilities, including minimum speed thresholds;
(4) Evidence, including a certification from the application signatory, demonstrating the unserved or underserved nature of the project area;
(5) The number of households that would have new access to broadband service as a result of the grant;
(6) The total cost of the proposal and the time frame in which it will be completed;
(7) The amount of matching funds the applicant proposes to contribute and a certification that no portion of such funds are derived from a federal universal service fund or any state government grant or loan program;
(8) Evidence demonstrating the economic and commercial feasibility of the proposed project;
(9) A list of all government authorizations, permits and other approvals required in connection with the proposed project and a timetable for the applicant's acquisition of such approvals; and
(10) Any other information required by the authority.
(1) Disputing an applicant's certification that a proposed project area is unserved or underserved or that a federal universal service fund or any state programs do not provide funding for a project for which program support is sought; or
(2) Attesting to the challenging provider's existing, or planned, provision of broadband service within the applicant's proposed project area.
(1) The size and scope of the unserved area or underserved area proposed to be served;
(2) The experience, technical ability and financial means of the applicant in successfully deploying and providing broadband service;
(3) The length of time the applicant has been providing broadband service in the State;
(4) The extent to which government funding support is necessary to deploy advanced communications technology infrastructure in an economically feasible manner in the proposed project area;
(5) The amount and proportion of the matching funds proposed to be committed by the applicant;
(6) Whether the proposed project area is an unserved area, rather than an underserved area;
(7) The service speed thresholds proposed in the application and the scalability of the advanced communications technology infrastructure proposed to be deployed to speeds higher than 25 megabits per second from the broadband service provider to the customer and 3 megabits per second from the customer to the broadband service provider;
(8) The applicant's ability to leverage nearby or adjacent advanced communications technology infrastructure to facilitate the proposed project and provision of service to households;
(9) The extent to which the proposed project does not duplicate any existing advanced communications technology infrastructure in the proposed project area; and
(10) Such other factors the authority determines to be reasonable and appropriate, consistent with the purpose of facilitating the economic deployment of advanced communications technology infrastructure to unserved areas.
This bill facilitates the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved areas of this State by establishing the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program under the ConnectME Authority to award grants to applicants for the purpose of extending deployment of facilities used to provide broadband service to unserved areas of the State and thus to encourage new investment in broadband service infrastructure. The bill eliminates the Municipal Gigabit Broadband Network Access Fund. The bill removes the authority of the ConnectME Authority to require communications service providers to contribute to the ConnectME Fund. It allows the authority to issue bonds for the construction of advanced communications technology infrastructure.