As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment act of 2009, the federal government set aside money to be used to improve access to broadband Internet service in areas where such service has been hard to come by.
A coalition of Maine state officials, representatives of the University of Maine System and Maine telecommunications companies got together in early 2009 to determine how Maine might leverage some of the stimulus funds to enhance broadband access.
After some discussion, it became clear that the lack of a middle-mile network of high-capacity fiber optic cable - the equivalent of an Interstate highway in a road system - was a major obstacle to improving data transmission in many areas of the state. A middle-mile network design was developed for the grant proposal.
The proposal was dubbed the Three Ring Binder because it featured three "rings" of fiber strung through Western, Northern and Downeast Maine.
Maine Fiber Company was formed during the grant application process to take charge of the project should it win funding. On Dec. 17, 2009, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke came to Bangor to announce that the Three Ring Binder would receive a $25.4 million federal grant. Maine Fiber Co´s private investors provided approximately $7.4 million more in financing to complete the project, without which the grant would not have been approved.