Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maine Department of Education has received federal emergency funding that can be used to provide high-speed broadband connections to K-12 student and teacher households — as well as households with enrolled college students — that currently do not have access to minimum internet speeds of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.

Tidewater Telecom and Lincolnville Networks has been approved by the Maine DOE and the ConnectME Authority to build out its high-speed fiber optic network to eligible student households in Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville.

Five Town CSD Superintendent Maria Libby and School Union 69 Superintendent Kate Clark noted the importance of this opportunity for students: “Our mission is to provide high quality, equitable educational opportunities to the students of Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville. One necessary tool to help us reach this goal, especially during the pandemic, is access to high speed internet. Once considered more of a luxury, the internet has now become something of a utility, like heat or electricity, and yet some of our families do not have the opportunity to access broadband because of where they live. We are fortunate that LCI and Tidewater made the effort to seek out these funds and build the infrastructure to take us all a step closer to broadband access for all, especially during this time where many students are accessing their education remotely.”

Shirley Manning, owner and president of Tidewater Telecom and Lincolnville Networks, said, “It’s an honor to work as partners with the school districts and municipal officials in Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville. By collaborating with our community partners we were able to successfully secure the federal funding need to extend high-speed fiber optic broadband to over 300 student and teacher households in those three towns. Our goal is to provide 100% 'Fiber to the Home' to all communities we serve. With the leadership of the ConnectME Authority, DECD Commissioner Johnson and Governor Mills, we are making a quantum leap forward toward that goal.”

This offer is available to those who meet the following four qualifications:

– Has a K-12 student/teacher or a currently enrolled college student living in the house;

– Lives at an eligible student/teacher address in Appleton, Lincolnville or Hope and currently not receiving at least 25 Mbps download x 3 Mbps upload internet service;

– Is not connected to Tidewater Telecom/Lincolnville Networks’ O.P.E.N. fiber network (new fiber optic internet customers only); and

– Submits a signed application for service by Dec. 30.

K-12 student and teacher households in Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville that may be eligible for this special program will receive emails and texts directly from the Five Town CSD and School Union 69 superintendents. The email/text from the superintendents will provide all the application information, including the direct online application link for this Special Program offer.

Enrolled college student households and other student or teacher households in Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville that may be eligible for this special program, can contact Tidewater Telcom/Lincolnville Networks at students@tidewater.net to see if they meet the eligibility criteria for this Special Program offer.

If you did not receive an email or text from the Five Town CSD or School Union 69 Superintendents’ Office and believe you may be an eligible student or teacher household in Lincolnville, Appleton or Hope, email Tidewater Telecom at students@tidewater.net. For more information and details on what is included in the offer, visit tidewater.net/students.