Choptank Electric Cooperative and its subsidiary, Choptank Fiber, were awarded almost $16 million from the state’s FY2023 Network Infrastructure Program to continue broadband construction on the Eastern Shore. The new grants will enable Choptank to offer high-speed internet service to more than 3,300 additional unserved homes and businesses in Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s, Wicomico, and Worcester counties.
The funding comes as part of a nearly $92 million award announced last week by the Governer to expand high-speed internet access to an estimated 14,500 households and businesses across the state through Connect Maryland, an initiative to close the digital divide through the Office of Statewide Broadband. The Connect Maryland Network Infrastructure Grant Program made 35 awards to Internet Service Providers and local jurisdictions to construct new broadband networks to service unserved households.
“I appreciate that Governor Moore and his team recognize the unique progress Choptank is making as we connect thousands of families to broadband service,” said Mike Malandro, President & CEO. “With this tremendous new grant, we will continue to change lives and bring the unserved into the world of broadband.”
The Office of Statewide Broadband is housed in the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Through its programs to expand infrastructure and increase digital equity, the office works to ensure that all Maryland households have access to broadband. Since the office was created in 2017, it has invested more than $270 million into broadband infrastructure and programs. Those efforts provide high-speed internet access to an estimated 52,000 previously unserved homes and businesses statewide.
Choptank Fiber has made broadband internet service available to more than 4,000 previously unserved households and small businesses on the Eastern Shore. “When we created the broadband affiliate, we expected our buildout to take much longer,” explained Malandro. “Financial support from government partners at the state and local level and our ability to leverage those funds is allowing us to stock fiber supplies and hire local contractors to deliver faster than any other company on the Shore.”
Choptank is one of only five companies on the Eastern Shore that has been awarded funding in the 2023 round. Other projects include connecting communities as remote as homes in the mountains of western Washington County to areas in more densely populated jurisdictions in the state, including Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.
To see the full list of awards, go to dhcd.maryland.gov/Documents/PressReleases/MD-Broadband-Infrastructure-Awards-2023.pdf.