County Broadband Network Advances

SNOW HILL- Worcester County is shaping up to receive some of the best broadband coverage of any rural area in the country after county officials this week reviewed to ongoing projects.

Both the Maryland Broadband Cooperative Inc. (MBC) and Bloosurf, LLC made presentations during the County Commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday. MBC officials updated the commissioners on the progress they’ve been making installing fiber optic cable. There are two projects currently underway. A section of Route 113 from Pocomoke to Selbyville is in the process of having the physical components of a broadband network added. Another project in the planning stages is performing the same construction on a stretch of Route 50 from Salisbury to Ocean City.

Pat Mitchell, a representative for MBC, discussed what the company will be offering the Lower Shore of Maryland and Worcester County in particular.

“As far as Internet goes,” said Mitchell, “we’re the infrastructure.”

Mitchell mentioned the $115 million broadband stimulus award granted MBC and how it will be used to help connect over a thousand CAIs throughout the state. CAIs, which stand for Community Anchor Institutions, include schools, government offices and emergency services.

The Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland will be receiving 46 of the 1,006 CAI connections with the majority of 25 going to Worcester County. When all is said and done, Mitchell guaranteed that there will be more than enough broadband to go around.

“There will be as much capacity as needed for public and private use,” he said.
While MBC dealt with the physical part of the equation, Bloosurf gave its own presentation.

“Bloosurf is the last mile provider and MBC is the middle provider,” said Paul Carliner, the President of Bloosurf, in a memo to the county, “This is how we connect the Lower Shore to the Internet.”

Recently, Bloosurf received a $3.2 million award through the Rural Utilities Service to expand broadband on the Lower Eastern Shore. Half of the award was a low interest loan while the other half was a grant.

Bloosurf plans on covering more than 80 percent of the Lower Eastern Shore’s population by the time it’s finished, providing between one and five Mbps to residents and between 10 Mbps to one Gbps for local businesses and anchor institutions.

“We will be a national model on how to do broadband in a rural area,” said Carliner. “This will be the first time that this kind of 4G mobile broadband will be brought to a rural area.”