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Carroll County to apply for federal broadband dollars to fund connection of 119 rural households

Carroll County is one step closer to providing broadband internet service to unconnected rural households after submitting federal grant applications to help cover costs.

At Thursday’s Board of Carroll County Commissioners meeting, staff from the Department of Technology Services requested permission to submit five applications to the Office of State Broadband for the fiscal 2022 Neighborhood Connect Grant.

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The county posted a request for proposals earlier this month inviting internet service providers to team with the county for the Connect Maryland grant program. The county received one response, from Quantum Telecommunications.

The proposed projects will provide service to 119 homes in a rural area between Hampstead and Westminster, primarily between Shiloh and Gorsuch roads. These areas were selected due to the proximity to existing Quantum fiber-to-the-home facilities.

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The project is estimated to cost $2.4 million, including $1.8 million from the state, $24,087 from Quantum and $564,210 from the county.

“What we are asking for here is … for you to submit these grant applications to the State of Maryland and also approve the county match, should the state award any of these grants to Quantum,” Mark Ripper, director of technology services, said to the commissioners.

Commissioner Dennis Fraizer, R-District 3, asked if the county match would come from county funds or federal funds. Ripper confirmed that the county match would be met by using the county’s Local Fiscal Recovery Funds already allocated for expansion of broadband in Carroll.

Expansion of broadband internet to unserved areas is an eligible expense in the American Rescue Plan Act 2021. Grant applications are due to the state by Jan. 14, according to a county document.

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