Carroll County Times Opinion

Tech Tips: What is broadband and why is it important?

What is broadband? What's all the hype and why is it so important? If you attended Carroll Technology Council's recent Carroll County Broadband Symposium, you know the answer to these questions, but for those of you who didn't I'll share some event highlights below.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, the term broadband commonly refers to "high-speed Internet access that is always on and faster than traditional dial-up access and includes several high-speed transmission technologies such as: digital subscriber lines (DSL), cable modem, fiber optic cable, wireless, satellite and broadband over power lines (BPL)."


Westminster Common Council President Robert Wack, one of the speakers at the symposium, used the analogy that "oxygen is to human life as high-speed broadband is to economic development."

You may be asking, what does that mean? Here's a test for you: Grab four drinking straws of various sizes (for instance, a coffee stirrer, a regular drinking straw, a milkshake straw and then a smoothie straw). Hold your nose and breathe in through each straw starting with the smallest one. More than likely, after a few deep breaths, you will begin to get lightheaded. Now imagine taking those deep breaths through a 6-inch PVC pipe. The flow of oxygen is much easier with a larger straw or pipe, just as the transference of data is much easier and quicker by using fiber optic cable versus a dial-up Internet connection.


In 2007, Carroll County began building a 112-mile Carroll County Public Network to serve public schools, government buildings, Carroll Community College, Carroll County Public Library and the major business parks throughout Carroll County.

To advance broadband infrastructure statewide, the Inter-County Broadband Network, a collaborative of Annapolis, Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties, continued building high-speed fiber optic networks across the state. The network now spans 4,200 square miles across central Maryland and passes approximately 71,000 businesses and 1.8 million households.

At this point, what you may not know is that access to Carroll's fiber optic network is available now for lease for your home and business via a qualified Internet service provider. In most instances, additional construction, installation and cost of fiber may be required in order for you to connect.

What is even more exciting is that this past Thursday, the City of Westminster just broke ground on its fiber network with a groundbreaking ceremony at the Airpark Business Park in Westminster. The high-capacity broadband access is expected to bring higher value to the homes within the city limits as well as attract additional businesses to both Westminster and Carroll County.

Oxygen is essential to human life and high-speed broadband access advances business and economic development; there is no other way to put it. I, for one, am excited for a front-row seat to see what these new resources does for a community that I both live and work in, as these impacts can only make Carroll County a better place to live, work and play!

To view the Carroll County Broadband Symposium, visit the Community Media Center's YouTube Channel.

Kati Townsley is the Administrator of the Carroll Technology County and can be reached at For more information about the Carroll Technology Council, please visit its website at