County Hears Broadband Proposals

SNOW HILL – County leaders continue to explore broadband possibilities for rural Worcester County.

The Worcester County Commissioners last week heard proposals from both Choptank Electric Cooperative and Talkie Communications. The commissioners are expected to have a work session in May to discuss how to move forward with bringing broadband to those without access.

“It’s a work in progress,” Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said. “I don’t think we’re ready to put fiber to people’s homes but we are moving forward with it.”

Mike Malandro, president and CEO of Choptank, provided information on the Choptank Fiber initiative, through which the first customers were connected this month. Malandro said the company was committed to bringing internet to those who were currently served.

“Our motto behind this is ‘no home left behind,’” he said.

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The company estimates the cost of bringing fiber to those not currently served in Worcester County at $37 million.

Talkie Communications, the internet provider the county agreed to partner with in January so that it could apply for certain grants, initially presented the commissioners with a plan to start installing some fiber in the southern part of the county last month. The commissioners, however, asked them to return with a plan and estimated cost for installing fiber throughout the whole county within three years. They came back this week with an estimate of $51 million.

“We actually believe we can do it closer to the two year mark,” Talkie’s Andre DeMattia said.

DeMattia said the company could have some customers connected as soon as October if the county had them move forward.

Mitrecic said this week the commissioners would have to have a work session to discuss the two proposals and how to proceed.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.