U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced a $115.2 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act investment to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs, and improve education, public safety, and healthcare delivery in Maryland.
"In a globalized 21st century economy, when you don't have regular access to high-speed Internet, you don't have access to all the educational, business and employment opportunities it provides," Locke said. "This critical Recovery Act investment will create jobs and lay the groundwork for long-term sustainable economic growth in Maryland."
The grant to the Maryland Department of Information Technology will fund deployment of high-speed Internet infrastructure to deliver affordable broadband service to each of Maryland's 24 counties. The project plans to construct over 1,200 miles of new fiber and incorporate 2,400 miles of existing fiber from three independent networks. The new network plans to provide enhanced broadband service to more than 1,000 community anchor institutions, including universities, K-12 schools, libraries, public safety, and healthcare facilities, and connect educational hubs like the University of Maryland and Coppin State University to National LambdaRail and Internet2. In addition, local Internet service providers will be able to utilize the new infrastructure to deploy new or improved high-speed Internet service to consumers and businesses.
"This project will have a real and lasting impact on Maryland by improving the quality of life for residents and helping businesses, particularly those in areas like the western panhandle and eastern shore, better compete in the global economy," Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling said.
The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service are administering a nearly $7 billion Recovery Act initiative to expand access to and adoption of broadband services. NTIA is utilizing approximately $4 billion of that funding for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), which provides grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure, enhance and expand public computer centers, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service.
Today's announcement is part of the second round of BTOP grant awards, which will continue on a rolling basis. NTIA will make all BTOP awards by September 30, 2010, and has thus far announced 219 BTOP grants to benefit communities nationwide.