County Broadband Work Begins

POCOMOKE – Work to expand broadband access in the Pocomoke area is now underway.

Talkie Communications kicked off a county-wide fiber-optic network project in the Dun Swamp Road area this week.

“We are so thrilled for the citizens of this area,” Commissioner Josh Nordstrom said. “I hear from them constantly regarding the need for high speed internet here. It’s absolutely essential infrastructure.”

The commissioners on Thursday joined representatives of Talkie Communications Inc. for a ceremony to celebrate the start of the project, which actually began on Tuesday. Though Talkie was selected to be the county’s broadband partner in January, both Talkie and Choptank Fiber made presentations to the commissioners this spring about plans to bring broadband to Worcester County residents. As the county’s selected broadband partner, Talkie has already secured several grants to help fund its work in Worcester County. The company has not yet received those funds but wanted to begin work in the county now to show its interest, according to Brian Jones, the county’s director of information technology.

“They are financing this phase on their own…,” he said. “They are planning to build out 18 miles in the Dun Swamp area which is equivalent to the upper amount of 1.8 million.”

Jones said crews were drilling this week to lay conduit. Work will continue this summer and Talkie hopes to provide residents with access to broadband by October.

This is the first phase of Talkie’s work in Worcester County. After Dun Swamp, the company will pursue installations in the Sheephouse Road and Stockton Road areas.

As for county-wide broadband and the presentations made by Choptank and Talkie this spring, the commissioners have not yet made a decision to support either company’s effort financially. Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said that while broadband would make its way to Worcester County in about eight years on its own, the commissioners don’t want residents to have to wait that long.

“That’s not an acceptable timeline for us so we’ll have to look for a way to incentivize both companies to move forward,” Mitrecic said.

He said that discussion would be ongoing.

“There’s not one decision that’s been made,” he said.

Commissioner Chip Bertino said he was happy that Talkie was working with the county to get the broadband work started now.

“This is a good first step in moving the county forward to full broadband connectivity,” he said.

Nordstrom added that high speed internet would be an asset to economic development efforts in the south end of the county. It will also benefit residents.

“They’ll be able to do things they weren’t able to do before, like go back to school and apply for jobs,” he said. “I’m excited, happy, thrilled, about Talkie beginning the process here in the southern part of Worcester County. They saw the need.”

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.