WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski, together with U.S. Representative John Delaney (all D-Md.) have announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has awarded the Board of County Commissioners of Allegany County $100,000 for a project to expand public and private access to broadband.
“Internet access is no longer a luxury item. Reliable broadband access is critically important to maximizing public safety, economic growth and educational opportunities for residents of Allegany County,” said Senator Cardin, who introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize funding for ARC. “This federal investment will help our first responders, small business owners and educators stay ahead of the curve. I will continue to work with members of Team Maryland and ARC help ensure Marylanders in the western part of the state have all the tools they need to succeed.”
“Connecting Western Maryland with our state’s broadband infrastructure is about creating jobs and making our state more competitive in the global marketplace for the next generation and beyond,” said Senator Mikulski, a senior member of Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “These funds in the federal checkbook will ensure families, educators and public servants in Allegany County have the tools they need to succeed. Together with Team Maryland, I have fought to tear down the digital divide so that no one will be sidelined or redlined.”
“You can’t compete as a business or provide top-notch public services in 2015 with 1990s technology. Improving and expanding broadband access is one of the biggest economic development issues in Western Maryland, it’s a topic that comes up daily,” said Congressman Delaney. “This grant is good news for Allegany County, bringing together federal and local resources to improve connectivity.”
This grant will fund the AllCoNet Backbone Microwave Link Upgrade Project. The AllCoNet Network currently provides broadband service to many critical public services in Allegany County including the 911 Center, Emergency Management, Sheriff’s Office, Detention Center, Transit, States Attorney, Utilities, Transportation, Public Schools, County Library System, Fire Departments and many city/towns.
Additionally, commercial subscribers provide ISP service to 35 businesses and many residential customers. This grant helps fund the purchase and installation of 56 radios that will be used at spur tower locations and interface directly with customer locations. The new radios will replace obsolete models that are in excess of fifteen years old. The new radios will allow increased bandwidth and provide additional reliability. AllCoNet serves 35 business customers and has over 5,200 users on its network.
Allegany County and CONXX will both provide $50,000 in funding, bringing the total project funding to $200,000.
Senators Cardin and Mikulski have been leading supporters of the ARC Commission in the U.S. Senate. In recognition of his support of regional economic development and the ARC, Senator Cardin received the 2012 Congressional Award from the Development District Association of Appalachia. Rep. Delaney has been a leader in pushing the federal state governments to prioritize the expansion of broadband access in Western Maryland.
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