County Awarded Broadband Funding

SNOW HILL – More than $10 million in state funding is expected to support efforts to expand broadband access in Worcester and Wicomico counties.

Gov. Wes Moore last week announced the award of $92 million to expand high speed internet access to an estimated 14,500 household and businesses across the state through Connect Maryland, an initiative to “close the digital divide” through the Office of Statewide Broadband.

In Worcester County, Choptank Electric Cooperative will receive $2.3 million to assist with a $3.4 million project to connect 243 homes. Also in Worcester, Talkie Communications will receive $4.5 million toward a $5.3 million project to connect 319 homes. In neighboring Wicomico County, Choptank Electric Cooperative will receive $3.8 million to assist with a $9.8 million project to connect more than 1,200 homes.

“Broadband is the utility that will determine economic outcomes in much the same way water and sewer systems have been for the past 150 years,” said Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Jake Day. “Full participation in the digital economy is essential for resolving inequities for countless Marylanders and the Office of Statewide Broadband is committed to closing the digital divide.”

According to Valerie Connelly, vice president of government affairs and public relations for Choptank, company officials are excited to be doing more work in the county. She said the latest grant would allow the company to reach an additional 240-plus residents in Worcester County.

“We are currently working to finalize a map of the new grant area that will be posted on the website and shared with county officials in the next week or so,” she said. “This grant allows for a new Choptank Fiber service area in Worcester County.  Our current buildout, using county ARPA matching funds from 2022, will reach 470 unserved homes in the Pocomoke Forest area.  We are urging residents who are interested in Choptank Fiber broadband service to pre-register on the Choptank Fiber website.”

Andre DeMattia of Talkie Communications said the nearly $5 million in funding Talkie was receiving would help the company expand access in the southern end of the county near Pocomoke.

“It’s a three-year grant,” he said. “We’re going to try to get it done in a year.”

He said Talkie had recently installed fiber in the Bishopville area.

“Now we’re working on Whaleyville,” he said. “We’re going to be working on Route 12 and Girdletree next as well as simultaneously finishing up the Pocomoke area south of the highway.”

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.