While Carroll County is completing its fiber optic network, the City of Westminster is entering the engineering phase of its pilot program to provide broadband access to residential areas.
The long-anticipated Carroll County Fiber Network, including 112 miles of network infrastructure through the county, is expected to be completed at the end of August. Private companies will be able to connect to the network after Aug. 31.
The network is intended to provide high-speed Internet service throughout the county. Gigabit speeds on the network have the potential to download feature-length films in about a second-and-a-half.
The Common Council recently approved a pilot program that will extend the county's fiber network to the Carroll County Airport and Carroll Lutheran Village.
Councilman Robert Wack said the goal is for every home and business in the city to be connected to the network in three to five years.
Like the county, Westminster's fiber plans are driven by economic development.
"The kinds of businesses that can develop when you have the widespread availability of high capacity broadband is much, much greater," Wack said.
Wack added that the fiber connection is expected to increase home values throughout the city.
"There's a lot of different spin-off benefits," he said.
Construction for the pilot programs is expected to begin before the end of the year and could be completed by the middle of 2014. For the two pilot programs, Westminster is expecting to pay between $600,000 to $700,000.
Wack said there is no cost estimate on how much the city will pay for the full program to be completed.
"We're going to do this in as careful a manner as possible to make sure that we maximize the probability of our success," he said.