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We often hear about the need to expand broadband, especially in rural areas of Waldo County. There’s been a lot of discussion recently focused on expanding broadband infrastructure. But affordability for those that lack the financial means to pay for an internet subscription is just as impactful a barrier to connectivity, which is why we were so excited to see the Maine Connectivity Authority’s recent launch of the ACP4ME campaign — a statewide initiative aimed at increasing enrollment into the Affordable Connectivity Program.

The Affordable Connectivity Program was established in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a law that may have never passed if it weren’t for the bipartisan negotiating efforts of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. The Affordable Connectivity Program provides a $30 monthly discount off an internet subscription for eligible households and makes a subscription virtually free when combined with a low-income plan offered by many of the nation’s leading providers.

This program is undoubtedly the best tool available to close the affordability gap, yet only 32 percent of the over 238,000 Maine households that are eligible for the program are enrolled.

Understanding this, and how amplification efforts in other states have been proven to work, the Maine Connectivity Authority took the necessary step to launch its own statewide amplification program.

This effort serves as a great example of policymakers — on both the state and federal level — working in unison to deliver for Mainers. We’re hopeful that it will ensure more unconnected Mainers get the high-speed internet that they need.

Dorothy Havey, executive director, Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce