Reach Me Line Extension Incentives
Reach Me will optimize broadband deployment by incentivizing internet service providers (ISPs) to complete their existing networks by extending service to all unserved locations in their service areas. Funded line extensions will take place in locations that the MCA has determined are most likely to be cost-effectively served by the expansion of existing networks.
How to Apply
ISPs who own existing fiber or cable networks may respond to a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) that then facilitates the rapid review of proposed projects. RFQ responses will include: labor and material cost rates to be used in proposals, company qualifications, the communities of current service areas and those affected by potential proposals, completion of required data filings, and information to verify affordability requirements. Qualified ISPs will receive an approved cost per route mile and potential subscriber location along the route, to be used with any adjustments for local factors such as the cost of pole make-ready or required underground construction, in making their proposals for line extensions.
MCA will work with pre-qualified ISPs to jointly select line extensions from identified areas for Reach Me Incentives. MCA may request additional line extensions and may solicit suggestions from participating ISPs; MCA will ask participating ISPs to identify the scale at which they have the capacity to deliver line extensions by the end of 2024. Should proposals received exceed available funds, or if the same line extensions are proposed by more than one participating ISP, MCA will first prioritize projects based on the level of service to be offered, the amount of Reach Me Incentives needed, and any proposals that further address affordability of service.
- AMA Engagement Session: August 10, 2022 (watch the recording)
- Program Launch: October 25, 2022
- Applicant Webinar: November 2, 2022 (register here)
- RFQ Deadline: November 14, 2022 at 11:59 pm
- Proposal Deadline: January 6, 2022 at 12:00 pm
Who is eligible to apply?
Reach Me Incentives are available to existing ISPs, and will fund fiber-to-the-premise and potentially cable line extensions beyond those required by any existing franchise agreements. Completion of the annual required data filing in 2022 is required, as the data will be used in the proposal process. More information and resources about completing data filings may be found here.
Criteria & Priorities
MCA will proactively identify eligible locations for Reach Me Incentives. Funded line extensions will be jointly selected with pre-qualified ISPs, where any existing last-mile connections fail to address some locations.
MCA will fund line extensions that provide service of at least 100/100 Mbps. Line extensions must be completed by 2025. ISPs should propose as many line extensions as feasible. MCA aims to incentivize universal internet service, one of its programming principles.
Minimum Financial Commitment
The ISP financial commitment must be at least $700 per potential subscriber location along the proposed line extensions, and may be greater than $700/location, as MCA will use the amount of Reach Me Incentives needed per location to evaluate competing proposals.
The prices for service offerings must be equal to or less than the price per subscriber location offered by the involved ISP elsewhere in the state. Involved ISPs must participate in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to meet federal requirements, and a service level of at least 50/10 Mbps must be offered to those eligible for ACP at a price that is fully subsidized under the ACP. This is currently $30 per month. Finally, the price for 100/20 Mbps service must be equal to or less than the federal reasonable comparability benchmark for broadband rates as determined by the annual FCC Urban Rate Survey.
MCA will allocate $20 million from the ARPA Capital Projects Fund for Reach Me Incentives. Based on participation by ISPs and the results of the five-year Maine Broadband Master Plan, MCA may extend Reach Me Incentives with support from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program created as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.