Howard County Times

Building contracts awarded for statewide broadband network

A group of local governments in Central Maryland awarded contracts this week to four companies that will help build a high-speed broadband Internet system in the state to improve communications among public agencies, as well as upgrade telecommunications in rural areas.

S&N Communications Inc., KCI Convergent Technologies Inc., Henkels & McCoy Inc. and Southern Maryland Cable Inc. won construction contracts to link and improve Internet speeds for local government offices, schools, hospitals, and emergency communication, according to Howard County Executive Ken Ulman's office.

The One Maryland Broadband Network was granted $115 million in federal stimulus money last year to build fiber-optic cable across Maryland that will connect 1,006 institutions.

The Inter-County Broadband Network, a segment of the state's project, will manage $72 million to link 715 public facilities with 1,300 miles of new cable in Central Maryland — including Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard, Frederick, Prince George's and Montgomery counties and the cities of Baltimore and Annapolis.

Construction has already begun in Baltimore and Howard counties and in Baltimore City. Last month, a warehouse logistical center for the Central Maryland portion of the project opened in Elkridge

In addition to improving communications in emergencies, officials expect to expand service in rural areas where commercial Internet providers are less likely to go. Officials also expect the system to save governments millions in commercial fees now paid to telecommunications firms.

Municipalities will also be able to lease unused parts of their network to businesses, which could also further expand the system.

The cables will be installed underground and on utility poles across the state by September 2013.