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Carroll works to provide better internet access for rural residents, department of technology services to apply for federal broadband funding

Carroll County officials continue to work to address a digital divide in the most rural areas of the county by pursuing federal grants to cover the costs of connecting communities via broadband internet service.

At Thursday’s Board of Carroll County Commissioners meeting, officials approved a request from the Department of Technology Services to issue a request for proposals (RFP) inviting internet service providers to team with the county in an application for federal funds from the Connect Maryland grant program.

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Grant applications are due to the state by Jan. 14. The RFP process is necessary for the county to access pandemic-related state and local fiscal recovery funds to match the Connect Maryland Infrastructure program funds, according to a county document.

“In order to spend any of the federal money that we’re getting to go toward these, we have to go through an RFP process,” said Mark Ripper, director of the Department of Technology Services. Ripper said the county intends to send a “multi-million-dollar application” to the state. He said each grant application allows for up to $10 million in funding requests.

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If Carroll County’s grant is approved, Ripper said officials hope to provide “large portions of the county” with broadband internet service.

“The bottom line is … this means we could potentially ... be able to light up a lot more [houses] than we thought we were,” said Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1.

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