In Session – Broadband
The largely rural location of the LESMD Region serves to place significant emphasis on the importance of a reliable broadband network, both in the spheres of education and in Economic Engines such as Agriculture and Healthcare. Significant strides toward statewide coverage have been made in recent years, particularly with regard to funding. In 2006 the Wicomico County based Md Broadband Cooperative was formed using state and federal funds to begin building a backbone network throughout the State of Maryland. The private 501(c)12 cooperative now has more than one hundred members, the vast majority of which are private sector ISPs (Internet Service Providers) who utilize the backbone.
In 2017 the Governor’s Office of Rural Broadband was established to evaluate and fund buildout projects involving ISPs and local governments. Funding comes from the State of Maryland Local Government Infrastructure Fund and is dispersed to the Office of Rural Broadband through the MD Department of Housing and Community Development. The Office also evaluates and funds backbone expansion through a similar mechanism.
Against this backdrop private sector ISPs and Md Broadband Cooperative continue to utilize revenue from standard commercial operations to leverage public sector funds at the local, state and federal levels.
Department of Housing and Community Development – Office of Statewide Broadband – Established (Digital Connectivity Act of 2021)
Establishing the Office of Statewide Broadband in the Department of Housing and Community Development to ensure that every resident of the State is supported by high-quality, affordable broadband Internet service and has the tools necessary to take advantage of the Internet; requiring the Office to develop, by July 1, 2022, a statewide plan to ensure that all State residents have the ability to connect to reliable broadband Internet by December 31, 2026; establishing the Digital Inclusion Fund to support capacity building in the State; etc.
Department of Information Technology – Office of Broadband and Joint Committee on Broadband
Sponsored by: Delegate Krimm
Altering the uses of the Rural Broadband Assistance Fund; establishing the Office of Broadband in the Department of Information Technology to assist local jurisdictions in improving access to high-speed internet; requiring the Office to coordinate with certain Executive Branch agencies and stakeholders; establishing the Joint Committee on Broadband to ensure that local jurisdictions in the State are able to expand access to high-speed internet and make recommendations for new laws, programs, and services needed to support the expansion; etc.