Lt. Governor Brown Joins Senator Mikulski to Announce Important Grants for Expanding Maryland's Broadband Network

More than $115 million in competitive stimulus funding to add more than 1,200 miles of high-speed Internet cable and bring new jobs to the state

 

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (September 20, 2010) – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski and Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, together with Hagerstown Community College President Guy Altieri, announced the state has been awarded more than $115 million in competitive federal grant funds to extend broadband to rural and underserved communities across the state. The grant will link seven anchor institutions for Washington County, including Hagerstown Community College.

Expanding broadband is crucial for increasing Internet access and capacity in the county and across the state, helping create jobs, improve public safety, increase educational opportunities, improve health care delivery and improve infrastructure for BRAC.

“This grant brings jobs and opportunity to Western Maryland,” said Senator Mikulski, a long-term champion of broadband access and Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds the Department of Commerce.  “Internet in this area has, for too long, been a two-lane highway. Now it will be a digital super highway, with on-ramps for institutions including Hagerstown Community College, the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and the Washington County Backup 911 Center. You shouldn’t have to leave Western Maryland to get the education or the job of your dreams. ”

“The shared investment we’ve made to expand broadband access to more rural parts of our state will create new jobs and help businesses protect existing jobs,” Lt. Governor Brown said. “Governor O’Malley and I applaud Senator Mikulski’s leadership that has helped us create 40,000 jobs in Maryland since January – double the national rate of growth. By protecting our priorities and building on the progress we’ve made as One Maryland, we will pull through this national economic downturn more quickly than other states.”

“Broadband is critical to Hagerstown Community College in its delivery of high-quality post secondary education,” Dr. Altieri said. “Ensuring that the college and its students have strong Internet connectivity allows us to offer state-of-the-art programs and train the workers of tomorrow with current and emergent technologies that will allow them to compete well in what has become a global economy.

The Maryland Department of Information Technology (DoIT), in partnership with public and private agencies across the state known as the One Maryland Broadband Network, won $115,240,581 in grant funding through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. Funding was provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and this grant is one of the biggest broadband grants awarded to date.

One Maryland Broadband Network (OMBN) will use the funds to build more than 1,200 miles of high-speed Internet line, linking together three independent broadband networks and extending affordable and abundant Internet access to more than 1,000 anchor institutions – including 458 schools, 44 libraries, 262 police and emergency centers, 15 community colleges, 6 universities and 221 other government and community support centers. The new network will connect the state from Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore, reaching 2 million homes and 443,000 businesses.

The grants are expected to create more than 800 new jobs now and at least 800 more new jobs in the future. They will provide high-speed access to parts of Maryland that had little or no Internet connectivity. Many connections are too slow to process large amounts of data quickly – a problem when trying to send business records, video conferencing for educational coursework, medical records and emergency communications.

Senator Mikulski began putting money in the federal checkbook to build out Maryland’s broadband infrastructure in 2006. That included more than $18 million to wire the Eastern Shore from Wallops up along the shore and across the Bay Bridge to Patuxent River. With so much work still to be done to complete Maryland’s information superhighway, Senator Mikulski fought to include $4.7 billion in competitive broadband grants in the Recovery Act passed by Congress last year. The grants announced today come from those funds.

 


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