GARDINER – Faster Internet access is now available to 437 more homes and businesses in central Maine.

FairPoint Communications recently expanded its high-speed broadband Internet service in Gardiner, Richmond, West Gardiner, Litchfield, Pittston and Randolph.

FairPoint spokesman Jeff Nevins said the company has invested more than $129 million in infrastructure and technology in northern New England since April 2008, including more than 700 miles of new fiber across the region.

Gardiner City Manager Scott Morelli said he’s always happy to see high-speed Internet service made available to more people in his city.

“High-speed Internet is becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity,” he said Tuesday. “Even if some of these areas may already have access to high-speed Internet via Time Warner Cable or another provider, competition helps keep rates low and provides more options for our residents and business owners.”

Nevin said the company’s new fiber-based, high-capacity network called VantagePoint offers customers a better, faster way to communicate.

“This expansion is part of FairPoint’s plan to increase broadband access to 83 percent of its service areas in Maine by the end of the year,” he said.

Mike Reed, FairPoint president in Maine, said the company’s employees are working hard every day to install more broadband across the state.

“Broadband access opens doors to the world for the residents and businesses in Maine and is fundamental to the state’s future economic growth,” Reed said.

Phil Lindley, executive director of the ConnectME Authority, said FairPoint is eligible for grants through his agency, but this expansion was paid for by FairPoint as a requirement set by the Public Utilities Commission.