In this Oct. 2, 2007 file photo, A.J. Bowen of Schupp's Line Construction, Inc. works on fiber-optic installation in Norton, Vt. Even though the federal government has spent tens of billions of dollars to close the digital divide, tens of millions of Americans still aren’t online. Credit: Toby Talbot / AP

Gov. Janet Mills is expected to sign a bill establishing a new broadband internet agency.

The House and Senate both voted to create the Maine Connectivity Authority, a group that would be charged with expanding universal high-speed internet access and telecommunications infrastructure.

During a Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues event on Wednesday, Mills told the group she looked forward to signing the bill.

“This authority will be not simply looking at laying fiber underground or on wires, but looking at the affordability of the long term plans, something that we haven’t been able to do. What are the month to month costs that Maine ratepayers, Maine consumers can afford?” she said.

Mills said that the particular geography, economy and needs of Maine people have made it difficult to develop a comprehensive plan for improving broadband throughout the state.

The agency may have up to $129 million in broadband related funding from the American Rescue Plan Act at its disposal and will be charged with leveraging additional funding opportunities where available.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.