SNOW HILL – County officials agreed this week to spend close to $60,000 to test the broadband service currently available in Worcester County.
The Worcester County Commissioners voted unanimously to have CTC Technology & Energy test broadband service in the county at a cost of $57,500. The testing is meant to determine whether Bloosurf, the company that has received federal grants to bring high speed internet to Worcester County, has actually delivered the service.
“The information obtained by CTC will be invaluable to the county and any potential broadband provider, including Choptank,” said Brian Jones, the county’s director of information technology.
The commissioners asked Jones to get a quote from CTC Technology regarding broadband testing after company officials recommended that as the county’s next step when they presented a broadband feasibility study last month. Jones outlined what the testing would involve Tuesday.
“The scope of work has been broken down into seven major tasks,” he said.
CTC will facilitate discussions with U.S. Department of Agriculture and Federal Communications Commission officials, conduct signal strength testing to document Bloosurf’s coverage, design an online speed test, conduct premises-based speed testing, conduct in-field testing and prepare a final report. The company will also prepare a request for proposals to identify a potential partner.
“It could take several months to complete all the tasks I spoke of,” Jones said. “The tests are typically done in the summer months when the leaves are full.”
Commissioner Ted Elder asked if there was a way to hasten the process. Jones said he wouldn’t recommend doing the testing before the proposed timeframe.
“It’s a lot of money,” he said. “I feel let’s wait until it benefits us the most.”
Commissioner Jim Bunting agreed.
“It’s probably not going to be an easy thing to be done with Bloosurf so every bit of information we have that shows what our point is, is going to help us,” he said.
Jones said that in addition to moving ahead with CTC Technology, he also recommended the county continue to support Choptank Electric Cooperative’s efforts to expand rural broadband to Worcester County.