For the second time in two years, Garrett County, Maryland has received a $250,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission for community broadband development. The grant, which will be matched dollar for dollar by the County, is the latest in a series of major steps the small county has taken toward solving the challenge of rural broadband access faced by many communities across the country.
“ARC support for broadband expansion is good news for Garrett County residents and businesses,” said Congressman John Delaney (MD-6), who announced the award on Friday. “In the early days of Western Maryland, roads, rails, and rivers connected our communities to the rest of the country. Much of today’s commerce and communication takes place online and high-speed, high-capacity, online access is as essential as a navigable river or a paved road once was. This is precisely the kind of communications infrastructure investment that I believe is essential to our region’s future economic health.”
The award will help Garrett County develop wireless network resources for homes and businesses in unserved pockets of a mountainous and sparsely populated region. In 2012, CTC Technology & Energy recommended that the County pursue a public network using “TV White Spaces,” a nascent broadband technology carried over vacant television frequencies. The County’s connectivity goals are within reach in large part due to the One Maryland Broadband Network, the state’s NTIA funded fiber project that has brought over 45 miles of fiber optic backbone cable to Garrett County.
The new TV White Space network will reach 800 homes in its initial phase. The County’s goal is for the network to reach upwards of 3,000 homes through additional funding and partnership opportunities in the coming years, connecting the remaining 2,200 residences by 2016.
CTC Technology & Energy and Garrett County continue to partner on developing deployment strategies and finding private partners to provide Internet service to users of the network.