State Awards $127.6M in Grants to Expand Broadband Access

Governor Larry Hogan announced that through the Connect Maryland initiative, the Office of Statewide Broadband awarded more than $127.6 million to local governments, Internet Service Providers, and educational and community organizations to increase high-speed internet access and affordability.

cell phone showing a report of upload and download speedsThe funding will help provide broadband service to an estimated 15,000 households that are currently unserved or underserved. At the same time, specific education grants will expand infrastructure and provide wireless devices and equipment to Maryland’s K-12 students.

The awards flow through four grant programs, and the complete list of awardees is available here.

According to a press release:

  • The Connect Maryland Network Infrastructure Grant Program provides between $1 million and $10 million to local jurisdictions or their Internet Service Provider partners to construct new broadband networks to service unserved households. The program requires matching funds.
  • The Neighborhood Connect Broadband Grant Program provides between $50,000 and $500,000 to local jurisdictions and their Internet Service Provider partners to extend existing broadband service to unserved areas. The program requires matching funds depending on the project being funded, and the local jurisdiction or the Internet Service Provider may own the assets being funded.
  • The Connected Communities Program assists local community based organizations, nonprofits, and anchor institutions in creating Gap Networks and Community Network designed to address the affordability challenge many low to moderate income household’s face in subscribing for internet service. The program provides grants of between $25,000 and $250,000 for the construction, deployment, expansion, or continuation of these networks.
  • The Maryland Emergency Education Relief Grant provides grants between $50,000 and $350,000 to K-12 students and related school staff to close the gap for students who lack necessary internet access or the devices they need to connect to classrooms. Eligible applicants are Schools, Libraries, and Anchor Institutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the long-standing digital divide and underscored the need for rapid broadband infrastructure expansion. High-speed, reliable, and affordable broadband drives state and local economies, raising living standards, creating jobs, and delivering significant advances in education, healthcare, teleworking, e-commerce, public safety, and security.

Challenges remain as counties work with state, federal, and private sector partners to leverage unprecedented federal investments by accelerating service to underserved areas. At this year’s MACo Summer Conference, an expert panel will share best practices, strategies, and opportunities to overcome deployment hurdles, like securing easements from property owners, supply chain issues, and barriers to last-mile connectivity. 

The 2022 MACo Summer Conference will take place at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD, from August 17-22. This year’s theme is “Taking Care of Business.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: