WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) today announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has awarded a $50,000 grant for the Washington County Board of Commissioners’ broadband impact study. Currently, 79 percent of Washington County lacks adequate broadband Internet service because incumbent service providers have not invested the financial resources necessary to expand capacity. The lack of broadband Internet access in Washington County impacts the community in education, economic development, and community support services like public safety and emergency services.
“Technology is the key to innovation and growth in our economy and all Marylanders –regardless of where they live – should have access to the tools they need to succeed,” said Senator Cardin. “This study will help Washington County determine the best way to provide the residents and businesses in Washington County with the Internet connections they need to thrive economically and be part of the 21st Century’s information age.”
“In today’s global marketplace, broadband is what connects U.S. communities and businesses to each other and to the world,” Senator Mikulski said. “This grant will help communities in Washington County determine how to best connect to the information superhighway, which will bring new jobs and opportunity to communities and small businesses in Western Maryland.”
The new ARC funding will help Washington County determine how to leverage a new 18.5-mile fiber backbone, or a fiber optic cable system, so that it can increase broadband availability throughout the county. Washington County received funding for the fiber backbone from a 2010 Recovery Act grant awarded to Maryland to increase broadband access throughout the state.
In addition to the ARC grants, the Washington County Board of Commissioners will provide $50,000 for the study, bringing total funding to $100,000. The ARC is a federal-state partnership that works with the people of Appalachia to create opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life.