Biddeford, Maine– Biddeford Internet Corporation d.b.a. GWI, Maine’s premier provider in fiber-optic internet service and the state’s first B Corporation certified Internet Service Provider (ISP), announced today that they will receive funding from the Maine Connectivity Authority’s “Reach Me” grant program to expand high-speed fiber optic internet in Belfast, Paris, West Paris, and Sumner Maine. The nearly $2,000,000 in “Reach Me” funding will be matched by nearly $200,000 in private investment from GWI.
The Maine Connectivity Authority’s “Reach Me Line Extension Program” has a primary goal to incentivize internet service providers (ISPs) to complete their existing networks by extending service to all unserved locations in their existing service areas. In Paris and West Paris, the funding allows for GWI to build 10 miles of fiber infrastructure, expanding its current footprint from Sumner. The network extension will pass 141 unserved/under-served locations. “This award by Maine Connectivity Authority allows us to continue leaning into our focused work to bring fiber optic high speed broadband to Maine, allowing for the communities to participate in societal and economic development which they deserve,” stated Kerem Durdag, President and COO of GWI. “We move forward in our collaborative journey with citizens to root infrastructure that will have a generational impact.”
In Belfast, the network extension will pass an additional 248 households, totalling 13 miles of infrastructure. Through a trusted partnership between GWI and Arctaris Impact Fund, LP and Arctaris Opportunity Zone Fund, LLC, GWI began building a new network in the western portion of Belfast that is expected to be completed by early 2024. The combination of public investment through “Reach Me” funds and private investment through Arctaris and GWI will enable GWI to build a fiber-optic network in Belfast, passing 2500 locations that previously had little to no reliable internet service.
“What an exciting announcement for Belfast, in our continuing efforts to bring digital equity to the whole community,” stated City Councilor and Broadband Committee Member Mary Mortier. “This important extension will provide direly needed high-speed broadband service of at least 100/100Mbps to the residences and businesses located East of the Passy River in Belfast, who are severely underserved. This will bring our community into the 21st century and allow all our citizens to fully participate in today’s world, whether health, education, entrepreneurial business, banking or any of the day-to-day activities which now demand this connectivity.”
“Ensuring that all citizens and businesses in Belfast have access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet is vital for our community’s economic growth and future prosperity. In Belfast, we have prioritized improving internet connectivity to all residents. Public private partnerships made this project possible, and we are thankful to GWI for this meaningful collaboration with the City of Belfast,” stated City Manager Erin Herbig.
GWI is currently working with the Maine Connectivity Authority to finalize the details of the grant funding and associated vendors for the project. The Company expects to have a project update in the upcoming weeks.