CUMBERLAND — Garrett County is set to receive $421,414 in state funding toward broadband infrastructure projects, which is expected to improve access to 273 houses.
Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration announced Tuesday the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Office of Statewide Broadband would be administering grants totaling nearly $30 million to support network infrastructure projects, which would expand broadband internet access across the state.
The administration estimates the projects done by local internet service providers would improve access to more than 12,000 households statewide.
“These awards continue our ongoing efforts to make broadband access available and affordable for all Marylanders,” Hogan said. “As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increased focus on ensuring internet connectivity and building infrastructure that helps bridge the current digital divide.”
In Garrett, ProCom will receive $181,414 in grants for the Wisp Mountain project; however, the estimated total cost of the project is estimated at $302,358 and will impact 93 households.
In the second project in the county, Comcast of Maryland, LLC will receive $240,000. The total expected cost of that project is $681,021 and will improve access to 180 households.
Maryland Broadband Cooperative also will get funds amounting to the estimated cost of $1,310,990 required to complete its Garrett County Route 495 Project, serving 145 households.
Talkie Communications Inc. will receive $3.6 million toward the estimated $11,708,937 needed to complete its Connecting Allegany County, which aims to serve 2,577 households.
The awards were first administered by the Governor’s Office of Rural Broadband, prior to the establishment of the OSB within the Maryland HUD earlier in the year when Hogan signed a bill establishing it.
The legislation established the Digital Inclusion Fund and the Digital Connectivity Fund as programs to provide grants to local governments and nonprofits, who support initiatives that increase access to high-speed internet and the development of broadband internet infrastructure.
The stated goal of the newly established programs is 98% universal broadband access by the end of 2025.
“Lack of access to broadband must be addressed, regardless of the reason,” said Kenrick Gordon, director of the OSB. “The Office of Statewide Broadband will partner with local governments and internet service providers to ensure connectivity in communities that lack access and, in areas with existing service, increase affordability for low-income residents “
The state has administered over $56 million in federal and state funds towards broadband access since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.