Advertisement
Maryland

Gov. Hogan announces $127 million in funding aimed at expanding broadband access in Maryland

In an effort to expand broadband access in Maryland, $127.6 million in grants will be awarded to internet service providers, education and community organizations and local jurisdictions across the state, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday.

“Our goal is to ensure universal broadband to every single person in every single corner in the state of Maryland,” Hogan said at a news conference in rural Harford County.

Advertisement

As part of the state’s Connect Maryland initiative, this funding will provide broadband service to an additional 15,000 households that are currently unserved or underserved, Hogan said.

Connect Maryland is a state-led effort that launched in August and is set to invest $400 million to expand broadband access.

Advertisement

Since Connect Maryland was enacted, several initiatives that have worked to ensure statewide broadband access, including a survey that tests broadband speed, a digital literacy program in partnership with the University of Maryland Extension and a benefit program to help eligible households pay for internet services, the Republican governor said during the morning announcement in the town of Street.

The funding announced Friday was awarded through four grant programs, including the Connect Maryland Network Infrastructure Grant Program, the Neighborhood Connect Broadband Grant Program, the Connected Communities Program and the Maryland Emergency Education Relief Grant.

“These grants will help us connect citizens throughout the state of Maryland,” said Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, a Republican and a candidate for comptroller.

About $2.2 million of the funds have already been awarded to Harford County and a public-private partnership with Think Big Networks, an internet service provider.

“Public-private partnerships such as this one are critical to the success of rural broadband. If it were easy, it would have been done many years ago. But it’s not easy,” said ThinkBig Networks COO Dee Anna Sobczak. “These projects require real partnerships on many levels. From the county, to the state, to companies like ThinkBig.”

The Morning Sun

The Morning Sun

Daily

Get your morning news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the baltimoresun.com.

Additionally, the governor cited how the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated Maryland’s need for broadband access.

“It showed us just how critical a lifeline high-speed internet access is to our lives and our livelihoods — whether it’s for school, work, telehealth, or just staying in touch with families,” Hogan said.

Advertisement

Broadband access is available to more than 95% of all Marylanders, according to Hogan.

To receive federal assistance for broadband access, households must meet one of the criteria listed on the Maryland government’s website.

Hogan’s news conference was part of a daylong schedule in Harford County that included a tour the Klein Family Harford Crisis Center in Bel Air and several stops in Havre de Grace — to talk with recipients of Project Restore grants and visit the Keyes Creamery and Hopkins Family Brewery.


Advertisement