SNOW HILL — The majority of Worcester County is expected to have access to high-speed internet by the end of the year.
Thanks to the efforts of Talkie Communications, Choptank Fiber, Simple Fiber and Maryland Broadband, more and more Worcester County residents have access to broadband.
“This has been a huge undertaking,” said Director of Information Technology Brian Jones. “We’ve come a long way … In 2021 we started out with over 6,400 homes that had no internet. When everything is done that they’re working on today, we’ll end up in the neighborhood of 5,000 people that’ll be complete.”
Jones provided the Worcester County Commissioners with an update on broadband efforts at a recent meeting. He said the expanded access to high-speed internet had been made possible through the county’s partnership with Talkie, Choptank, Maryland Broadband and Simple Fiber.
While Maryland Broadband has helped with the overall infrastructure, Talkie is currently working to install fiber in Pocomoke and Whaleyville. Choptank is working to install fiber in the Germantown and Berlin area. Jones said Simple Fiber had installed innerduct and fiber in Pocomoke and would be expanding services to Snow Hill and Berlin.
“They’re not working in the rural areas but they are in the town side of things,” Jones said.
He said the county had accomplished a lot in the past two years. Despite the fact that estimates on bringing broadband to the entire county have risen from $50 million to more than $76 million, he said because they’d acquired so much grant funding Worcester County had spent just $96,000.
“To me that’ unheard of,” he said.
Commissioners Ted Elder and Jim Bunting, who both have spent years advocating for better internet access in Worcester, praised the progress. Commissioner Diana Purnell said she appreciated the expanded access as a resident and business owner.
“Worcester County is coming into modern times,” she said.
Commissioner Chip Bertino agreed.
“I don’t want it to be lost when we started this project, this government expected we’d be spending in excess of $50 million to do this and we committed that we would do this because we felt it was so important. Because of your efforts and efforts of these contractors and our partners in this as well as our staff… we got it down to $96,000 and we’re almost done. That is absolutely fantastic.”
Jones said he was hopeful new grants would become available in the spring of 2024 that could help the county’s partners reach the remaining 1,400 or so homes that won’t be connected through current installation projects.
As of this week, Jones said Simple Fiber was actively seeking customers to sign up for service in Pocomoke. Talkie Communications crews have started construction on Greenbackville Road and Rabbit Knaw Road. They have also started pulling fiber in Whaleyville, which means that work there should be done in 30-45 days. The same is true of Jones Road in Pocomoke.