FAYETTE — Fayette has joined Wilton in securing a $1.87 million grant to provide broadband internet coverage to about 440 homes and businesses in the region.

The money from Connect the Ready comes through the Maine Connectivity Authority’s grant programs.

Connect the Ready is a competitive grants program that will encourage proactive partnerships and collaborative efforts to design, fund, and build broadband infrastructure projects in eligible areas.

Fayette secured the money in cooperation with Consolidated Communications Inc.

“We are greatly appreciative of the work by the (Maine Connectivity Authority) staff that has led to the recommendation of an internet service provider committed to serving every resident,” Fayette Town Manager Mark Robinson said in a news release.

Fayette was working with Matrix Design Group since spring 2023 to secure funding through Maine Connectivity Authority. Despite the grant proposal being approved, Matrix declined the money awarded in December, citing “challenges in managing the income tax revenue associated with the grants.”


In a statement released by Maine Connectivity Authority President Andrew Butcher, he wrote, Maine Connectivity Authority “worked diligently with Matrix and the communities to understand the challenges faced by the company and to try to find creative solutions, but ultimately was unable to reach a financially and legally compliant option that worked for Matrix.”

During this time, Matrix was simultaneously working with Wilton to secure grant funding through Maine Connectivity Authority, with hopes of installing broadband infrastructure in the town. They hoped to host those services with the option of allowing the town to buy out the network and host it as a municipality service after five years.

Then-Wilton Town Manager Perry Ellsworth began working with Matrix Design Group in November 2022, and the proposal was accepted by Maine Connectivity Authority in the summer of 2023.

The Wilton Board of Selectpersons accepted the grant in July 2023, although Brian Lippold of Casco Bay Advisors advised against it at a previous meeting, citing the feasibility of the market share conditions in the grant requirements.

Ellsworth told the Select Board in November 2023 that Matrix had failed to come close to achieving a 50% market share of the households.

“We haven’t been able to achieve anywhere close to that,” Ellsworth said, adding 50% market share would amount to 700 households.


In February, Lippold told the Select Board that Consolidated Communications would pick up the grant. Through the Reach Me grant, $311,000 will be distributed to Consolidated Communications and Wilton to connect about 169 hard-to-reach locations, which will require the installation of underground infrastructure.

Reach Me will optimize broadband deployment by incentivizing internet service providers to complete their existing networks by extending service to all unserved locations in their service areas.

“With this new agreement, 100% of the residents of Wilton will have access to a new fiber-optic network that (Consolidated Communications) is deploying,” Lippold said. There is no additional cost to the town.

Funding for the Connect the Ready and Reach Me Programs was made available through the American Rescue Plan Capital Projects Fund, which provided $10 billion for “payments to eligible governments to carry out critical capital projects that directly enable work, education, and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to the public health emergency.”

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