Governor Hogan announces nearly $ 30 million awards for broadband infrastructure
Grant finance will expand service to more than 12,000 households in 18 counties
New Carrolton MD – (July 20, 2021) Governor Larry Hogan today announced awards to expand broadband internet access to more than 12,000 households in 18 counties. Managed by the Office of Statewide Broadband (OSB) of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, $ 29,472,131 in grants is provided to support network infrastructure projects by local ISPs that provide connections to underserved or underserved communities in Maryland.
“These awards continue our ongoing efforts to make broadband access available and affordable to all Marylanders,” said Governor Hogan. “With the overcoming of the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus is increasingly on ensuring internet connectivity and building an infrastructure that helps bridge the current digital divide.”
These awards are the first to be administered by the OSB. The OSB, which was formerly the governor’s office for rural broadband, was formed within the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development earlier this year when Governor Hogan signed Senate Bill 66 from the 2021 session of the Maryland General Assembly. The Act also introduced the Digital Inclusion Fund and the Digital Connectivity Fund as new programs for granting local governments and nonprofits. The grants support initiatives to improve access to high-speed internet and develop affordable broadband internet infrastructure with the stated goal of 98% universal broadband access by the end of 2025.
“The lack of broadband access needs to be addressed for whatever reason,” said Kenrick Gordon, director of the OSB. “The Office of Statewide Broadband will work with local governments and Internet service providers to ensure connectivity in unaccessible communities and to increase affordability for low-income residents in areas with existing services.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the state of Maryland has managed more than $ 56 million in federal and state funds to support broadband access. In response to the pandemic, the OSB provided grants to local school districts to provide connectivity to unserved students, funded additional WiFi access points for libraries to allow the community to connect, and provided Recovery Now funding of 2 million US dollars available for projects in Dorchester, Harford, and Wicomico counties built in just four months.
For a full list of winners, see the FY21 Broadband Awards List. More information about the OSB and its initiatives can be found at https://dhcd.maryland.gov/Broadband.