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Maryland: Expanding access for everyone

03 Jul, 2007

Despite being one of our country's most wired states, Maryland has had its own problems with high speed internet access.

In our latest state-by-state internet speed report, Maryland ranked a respectable 10th in the nation with a median download speed of 2.5 mbps. But there are plenty of residents in the southern part of the state and along its eastern shore who are on the wrong side of the digital divide.

To solve this problem, state officials have been following a careful plan, which began in 2003 with a comprehensive report by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation. One of the study's key findings:

Maryland is well endowed with high-speed fiber optics but the more rural parts of the State do not have ready access to high-speed bandwidth.

Shortly after this report was released, Maryland's General Assembly implemented one of its main recommendations, establishing the Task Force for the Deployment of Broadband in Rural Maryland. Working with several business and government organizations, the task force secured the passage of the Rural Broadband Communications bill in the state legislature in 2006. This legislation was intended to bring fiber optic lines to underserved counties in eastern and southern Maryland.

At the beginning of June, Phase 1 of this program was completed with the linking of a NASA facility and Salisbury State University along Maryland's eastern shore. And last week, Governor Martin O'Malley announced $2 million in advanced funding for Phase 2, which would continue the fiber installation another 70 miles across the peninsula to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The project is being overseen by the Maryland Broadband Cooperative, a member-owned fiber optic network serving rural parts of the state.

As Gov. O'Malley said,

"This $2 million will ensure that installation of the Rural Broadband Initiative will continue without interruption and ahead of schedule. Broadband access will improve the lives of all Marylanders on the Eastern Shore and in Southern Maryland, and give our rural businesses the tools they need to compete in a global marketplace."

Maryland is a committed to expanding high speed internet access to all residents.

Speed Matters: A Report on Internet Speeds in All 50 States (Speed Matters)

eReadiness Maryland: Assessing Our Digital Opportunities (Maryland Technology Development Corporation)

Governor Fast Tracks $2 Million To Continue Eastern Shore, So. Md. Broadband Project (Southern Maryland Online)

Maryland Broadband Cooperative

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