SALISBURY, Md. (June 25, 2007) Governor Martin OMalley, joined by State and local officials at his Cabinet meeting in Salisbury, today announced an advance of $2 million to continue installation of the Rural Broadband Initiative from Salisbury to the Bay Bridge, the second phase of the massive project to bring fiber optic lines to the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland. Earlier this month, NASAs Wallops Island Space Facility was linked to Salisbury State University completing Phase 1 of the initiative.
This $2 million will ensure that installation of the Rural Broadband Initiative will continue without interruption and ahead of schedule, said Governor OMalley. 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.
Through the efforts of Governor OMalley and the Secretaries of the Department of Business and Economic Development and the Maryland Department of Transportation, the Maryland Broadband Cooperative is quickly building an infrastructure that will allow private internet service providers and wireless internet service providers to reach our homes and businesses, said John A. Dillman III, president of the Maryland Broadband Cooperative.
The funds, which will come from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Developments Maryland Economic Development Assistance Fund (MEDAF), are being advanced from the departments FY 09 budget. The funds will be provided to the Maryland Broadband Cooperative, which oversees the project.
The Rural Broadband Communication bill (SB 753) was signed in May 2006 to bring access to fiber optic lines to the nine counties on the Eastern Shore and the three counties in Southern Maryland. An Internet Point of Presence (POP) will be located in each county along this new fiber line, focusing on connecting business and industrial parks.
The need for broadband on the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland was a key finding in the Maryland Technology Development Corporations (TEDCO) 2003 report. Despite the fact that Maryland ranks above most states in both the deployment and usage of information and communication technologies, the report found that households and businesses in Western Maryland, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore lag behind other areas in their rate of access and usage of high-speed communications.
The first recommendation in the final report was to create a statewide Task Force to address these disparities. During the 2003 General Assembly session, the Task Force for the Deployment of Broadband in Rural Maryland was established.
The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) along with the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), the Tri-County Council of the Lower Eastern Shore and the Mid-Shore Regional Council partnered on this effort, which resulted in the passage of the Rural Broadband Communications bill.