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                As construction continues on a major high-speed Internet service project in parts of Fort Fairfield and Presque Isle, work will soon begin to expand the number of homes and businesses served in a chronically unserved rural section of the community thanks to a grant awarded to Pioneer Broadband by the ConnectME Authority. 

                On Friday, the ConnectME Authority awarded approximately $480,000 in infrastructure grants to Internet Service Providers in eight Maine communities to help bring broadband to hundreds of homes and businesses in rural parts of the state that have limited access to the Internet.  Among the projects awarded was $59,824 in grant funds for an expansion of the Maple Grove Project in Fort Fairfield.  This extension, which will be matched by an additional investment of $45,000 from Pioneer Broadband, will enable fiber-to-the-home service to be provided to twenty-four homes and businesses along a two and a half mile section of road from the intersection of the Maple Grove Road along Houlton Road into the neighboring community of Easton.  An additional eight homes will also receive service along a roughly mile long spur starting at Presque Isle Road and traveling east on the Conant Road. 

                “We have been very focused on addressing the deficiencies in access to high-speed Internet in rural parts of our community for the past two years,” explained Tim Goff, Marketing and Economic Development Director for the Town of Fort Fairfield.  “Working with the information we received as a result of our Internet feasibility study, we have identified private partners to work with to improve Internet access in a targeted, phased manner.  For this southern section of our community, this has meant collaborating closely with Pioneer Broadband to bring Internet service to the area and then diligently exploring options to expand coverage as funding becomes available.”

                The Maple Grove Project, which is nearing completion, will bring reliable, high-speed Internet service to ninety-five homes and businesses on a fifteen mile loop along Presque Isle Road, Houlton Road (Route 1A), and the Maple Grove Road.  This grant will help expand the number of unserved homes receiving service to more than one hundred and twenty-five, while also bringing world class Internet speeds to two important community resources; the Nordic Heritage Center, which hosts major biathlon and mountain biking competitions; and the Francis Malcolm Science Center, the northeastern most planetarium in the United States.

                “We are very happy that the ConnectME Authority not only recognized the need of the residents and businesses located in this section of our community, but also how important providing high-speed Internet service to the science center will be for its ability to continue to offer high quality educational programs to hundreds of students and their families throughout northern Maine and western New Brunswick,” stated Goff.  “The planetarium, which recently received a major gift in the form of a digital projector, needs reliable, high-speed Internet to be able to offer a variety of programs and make the most of this extraordinary technology.”

              With high-speed Internet service, the Francis Malcolm Science Center, which is located just across the town line in Easton, will be able to access and stream hundreds of educational programs for a fraction of the cost of purchasing them.  This will enable the science center to offer a wide variety of programs and improve its operational efficiency. 

“Pioneer Broadband is committed to bringing reliable high-speed Internet access to communities throughout northern and eastern Maine,” explained Don Flewelling, Pioneer Broadband’s Director of Public Relations.  “If a business or residence needs gigabit speeds, this new Fiber-to-the-Home project will be able to deliver it with ease.”

The total cost of the project is roughly $105,000. Engineering work on the project is ongoing, with the goal to begin construction this fall.