Cecil County Government and the Maryland Governor’s Office of Rural Broadband announced today that Comcast has begun a network expansion project to extend broadband service to more than 61 addresses in Cecil County.
In addition to high-speed internet service, residential customers in the expansion area will have access to all Xfinity services, including the Xfinity X1 video platform, Xfinity Home, Xfinity Voice, and Xfinity Mobile. Comcast has already commenced with the detailed engineering and preparation of utility pole permit applications necessary to extend service and expects the first of these new services to be available by the end of 2021.
“Public-private partnerships such as this are wins for everyone involved and we’re pleased to be partnering with Comcast and the Governor’s Office of Rural Broadband to extend broadband service throughout the County,” remarked County Executive Dr. Alan J. McCarthy.
“Numerous pockets of small broadband deserts exist throughout the State,” said Kenrick Gordon, Director of the Governor’s Office of Rural Broadband. “Smaller-scale projects such as this are critical components of our goal to extend broadband to every resident and business in rural Maryland.”
According to a County press release:
The expansion will be partially funded by a $202,432 grant awarded to Cecil County Government and will extend service to Spring Hill Lane, Evergreen Lane, the 1097-1342 block of Irishtown Road, the 600 block of McKinneytown Road westward to Turkey Point Road, and DNR’s Black Hill Ranger Station.
Comcast has invested billions of dollars in its Maryland network to meet consumer demand, providing among the fastest, most reliable internet speeds over its fiber-rich network, and one of the fastest in-home WiFi experiences. Comcast will also offer Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest and most successful low-income Internet adoption program, providing low-cost broadband service, digital literacy training and discounted computers.
“Residents of these areas have vocalized their need for high speed internet service for many years now,” said David R. Black, Cecil County’s GIS Coordinator. “We are thankful to have obtained this grant to facilitate expansion by partnering with Comcast.”
Construction of the project’s total 14,150 linear feet (2.68 miles) of wire based broadband infrastructure will utilize a mix of above-ground (attached to utility poles) and underground service laterals. Service to the area will exceed speeds of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up. In addition, the trunk line will be designed to facilitate future expansion to four other nearby areas lacking broadband. These future service areas are on all three partners’ lists for future “edge out” projects as part of other grant opportunities.
Staff from the GIS Division of the Cecil County Department of Land Use and Development Services developed the grant proposal and worked cooperatively with staff from Comcast and the Governor’s Office of Rural Broadband on varied technical details.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, building out broadband access across Maryland is a 2021 MACo Legislative Initiative.
BUILD OUT BROADBAND: BROADBAND ACCESSIBILITY ACT OF 2021
Weaknesses in current broadband internet service occur in every jurisdiction, due to both geography and demography – too many Marylanders have been left on the wrong side of the “digital divide.” The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of broadband connectivity across the state. Students have transitioned to online learning, many professionals have shifted to telework, and applying for unemployment or small business assistance programs often requires access to the internet. Affordable high-speed internet is an essential component of a county’s economic development, while a lack of reliable broadband is a major barrier to socioeconomic opportunity, health, education, and quality of life.
MACo advocates for prioritizing funding to build out broadband access in Maryland, enhancing incentives and orchestrating opportunities for broadband deployment, and leveraging existing resources and infrastructure for broader use.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.