Local officials learned about broadband infrastructure and deployment challenges in a session titled “Going the Distance – Building the “Last Mile” of Broadband Infrastructure” held during the 2014 MACo Summer Conference. This session, moderated by Delegate Sheila Hixson, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, discussed the importance of broadband infrastructure, overcoming deployment challenges, and cost-effective solutions for going the last mile.
In introducing the panel, Delegate Hixson spoke of her interest in this topic and legislation she has introduced to streamline the State’s communications tax system and create a new funding stream to finance broadband expansion projects across the State. Delegate Hixson is likely to introduce similar legislation in the upcoming legislative session.
Andrew Afflerbach with CTC Technology and Energy spoke first on the panel offering examples of broadband and wireless approaches used by counties across the state. He spoke specifically about Garrett County’s approach to connect 250 homes through the use of towers. Tyler Patton with the Maryland Broadband Cooperative spoke to the challenges of providing broadband in rural jurisdictions and the need to better educate citizens and partner with organizations to deliver broadband services. Beth Thomas, the Coordinator of Information Technology for Allegany County discussed how the county overcame broadband challenges to become the first wireless carrier-grade broadband network in the country. She also offered examples of how the network has been used to deliver cost-effective solutions for sharing information with multiple entities. John Lyons the Cable Television Administrator in Anne Arundel County presented on a model used to connect homes in southern Anne Arundel County. Through a partnership with cable operator Broadstripe, the county was able to connect 850 homes beginning in August 2013.