Counties, Schools Keep Tabs on Fiber-Optic Project

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, counties and schools are watching and voicing concerns over the progress of the state’s broadband project, which is a jointly funded technology project.  Improved internet connection statewide can benefit home users, business, education, public safety and health care, as described by the Sun, and One Maryland Broadband Network is meant to boost all these areas through laying fiber-optic cable across the state.

Some counties have voiced concerns regarding the sufficiency of the new system and its reach into more rural areas.  As described,

Michael Pennington, executive director of the Tri-County Council for the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland, said he’s concerned now about the distance between the main cable — chiefly built along main highways — and the population, especially in areas where homes and businesses are so spread out.

That’s a problem even in Howard County, where companies along the industrial corridor of U.S. 1 have said they need more broadband capacity to expand their operations, said Lawrence Twele, CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority.

School administrators across the state look forward to having more bandwidth to enhance instruction and keep pace with an array of state and national tests conducted online, the Sun reports.

Baltimore County’s 174 schools are beginning a five- to six-year “digital conversion,” moving more materials online and seeing to it that every student is equipped with a laptop, iPad or some other device, said Ryan Imbriale, the school system’s executive director of digital learning. “Without the infrastructure in place, it’s close to impossible” to do this, he said. . .

While Somerset County schools recently upgraded their broadband capabilities, the fiber network is allowing its schools to consider how they might use videoconferencing and incorporate more video on interactive “smartboards” in the classroom, said Nancy J. Smoker, the system’s interim assistant superintendent of administration. It also will make it easier to give tests to large numbers of students at once, she said.

For more information, see the full story from the Sun and our previous posts:

Washington County Completes Study to Maximize Use of Broadband Infrastructure

Article Highlights Benefits of Statewide Fiber Optic Broadband Network

State and Counties to Benefit From Federal Broadband Stimulus