This month I had the honor of hosting our Federal, State and local partners as we formally kicked off the construction phase of the One Maryland: Inter-County Broadband Network (ICBN) Recovery Act funded-project . This project is important to me because it will allow the State of Maryland to bring sorely needed broadband resources to every corner of the State and foster cooperation across many layers of government.
The ICBN is just one leg of a three-legged stool that we hope makes Maryland the most wired state in the nation. Last fall, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's (ARRA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) granted the One Maryland Broadband Network (OMBN) $115 million. Howard County is managing a $72 million pool of BTOP funds in Central Maryland. The State of Maryland forms the second leg, and is partnering with an agency called the Maryland Broadband Cooperative (MDBC). Together, those two groups are using an additional $43 million to serve the more rural regions in Southern and Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore.
We expect that when construction is completed in 2013, the overall project will have installed approximately 1,300 miles of fiber and delivered broadband connections to over 1,000 anchor institutions across the state: schools, community colleges, public safety agencies, libraries, government facilities and hospitals.
Locally, I’ve worked closely with the Howard County Public School System and our libraries, community colleges and Howard County General Hospital, and I am looking forward to the distance learning, telemedicine and other initiatives that will benefit the residents of my community and all of Maryland. This project allows the elected leaders of many jurisdictions in Maryland to come together, as they did at the ICBN logistics warehouse, to work on a joint initiative that will pay dividends for years to come.
Perhaps most importantly, the project will create jobs during the construction phase and boost the State’s competitive advantage as companies choose to establish and grow here in Maryland because of the available technological backbone that helps them do business.
Additionally, as part of this initiative, we are reserving a minimum of 24 strands of dark fiber available to the private sector for lease. What does this mean? This means that our network infrastructure will be available for private sector carriers to utilize so that they can build out the last mile to reach homes and businesses that are currently underserved or unserved by broadband. We are actively forming partnerships with last-mile broadband providers who will provide service to these homes and businesses.
The investment in Maryland’s technology future does not end here. This initiative is only the catalyst for future investment and innovation. Howard County is proud to be a part of the OMBN effort to build the necessary infrastructure to propel Maryland forward as an economic and technological hub in the 21st century economy.
For further information about the project please visit our website: www.onemaryland-icbn.org