A pilot program will be established in a section of Rocky Ridge
Frederick, Md (KM) State funding totaling $202,000 has been secured by Frederick County to set a pilot program for rural broadband. County Executive Jan Gardner says it will be a public-private partnership to provide internet access to a section of Rocky Ridge.
Gardner says it will involve running cable along the roads. “Any property owner who then wants to connect to that line would need to pay the cost for that final stretch from the road to their homes basically through the private property portion of the project,” she says.
COMCAST has agreed to take part in the project.
Gardner says if this pilot program works out well, the county consider other pilot programs with other broadband providers. But County Government will not be involved in providing broadband services. “The Frederick County Government will support the expansion of broadband in our community, but we are not going to enter the industry or be a broadband provider,” she said.
The County Executive has set aside $1-million in her proposed fiscal year 2022 budget to help expand broadband to rural areas.
A recent study conducted in 2019 by Columbia Telecommunications Corporation found thousands of Frederick County citizens lack internet access, or had service that was very spotty. They are mostly located in the areas of west of Emmitsburg, the northeastern section of the county near the border and in Tuscarora and Sugarloaf Mountain areas. It concluded that it would cost $20;.5-million to build a network of fiber to these three areas where broadband is lacking.
Gardner said having access to broadband in this day and age is essential. “Reliable internet access is simply a necessity for most people,” she said. “We need the internet to apply for a job, to apply for unemployment or for a small business grant. We’re on line for teleworking, taking classes and staying connected with our friends and family.”
By Kevin McManus