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Carroll County, Md., Pushes Out Broadband Survey

Officials are asking residents to answer a survey about access to broadband Internet. Information collected will help identify areas where infrastructure does not exist or where service does not meet the minimum speed standards.

(TNS) — Carroll County government officials are asking residents and businesses in the county to answer a survey about access to broadband Internet connections.

Information collected in the Carroll County Residential Broadband Survey will help officials identify areas in the county where broadband infrastructure does not exist or where Internet service does not meet the minimum speed suggested by the Federal Communications Commission for "appropriate service," according to a county government news release.

According to Broadband USA, which is part of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the term "broadband" refers to high-speed Internet access that is always on and faster than traditional dial-up access. Broadband includes several high-speed transmission technologies, such as fiber, wireless, satellite, digital subscriber line and cable.

Broadband speeds vary depending upon the Internet service provider. The FCC requires consumers to have access to actual download speeds of at least 25 megabits and actual upload speeds of at least 3 megabits. Speed of connection is normally measured in megabits per second.

The county expects that survey results "will paint a clearer picture of residents' access to high-speed Internet and will help the county prepare a plan to improve broadband Internet access across the area," the news release states. "The data could directly impact grant and infrastructure funding for county broadband expansion projects."

About 90% of Carroll County has some form of Internet access, plus satellite and 5G hot spots, which add up to nearly 100% coverage, the county's website states.

"However, the county realizes there are a lot of pockets of unserved or underserved areas in the county including areas where accessing service is not practical or is unreasonably expensive," the website states. "An underserved area is defined as having unreliable service or slow Internet speeds."

County officials have been working for years to improve broadband connections for the unserved and underserved residents and businesses in the county.

Carroll County is not an Internet service provider, but the county does partner with private ISPs to use the county's fiber network to expand their networks, said Chris Winebrenner, communications manager for the county.

"In the last 18 months, Carroll County service providers have been granted $37 million by the state and federal governments to bring broadband to the unserved, providing access to 3,000 households," Winebrenner said. "This is the most money awarded to any county in the state. There is a lot of broadband development currently in the works. There are still approximately 3,000 more households that are unserved and not within the current plan. This is why the county's survey is very important to help identify the remaining unserved residents."

Since 2007, the county has invested $15.6 million in building broadband infrastructure, and anticipates completing infrastructure building by 2025.

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The county began construction of more than 110 miles of fiber optic lines in 2007. More than 130 local and state agencies were able to connect to the network, including county offices, Board of Education buildings and schools, Carroll Community College, the Carroll County Public Library system, emergency response facilities, courthouses and town offices.

Expansion continued in 2011, when the county received $6 million in federal funds, along with a county match of $2 million, to build the fiber backbone — the nerve center of a very high-speed network. This provided broadband access to 11 additional areas in the county.

In 2018, the Board of Carroll County Commissioners allocated $415,000 to build fiber optic lines in four business parks. These included the Warfield Complex, Liberty Exchange, Eldersburg Business Center, and Twin Arch Industrial Park.

In 2021, 53 households on Garrett Road in Manchester, 36 households on Halter Road in Westminster, along with parts of northern Carroll County, saw improvements in their Internet service. This happened in part due to state and county grants.

The following year, Quantum Telecommunications was awarded five neighborhood grants from the state for broadband expansion in Hampstead and Westminster. These included $369,920 to Brodbeck Road in Hampstead, $309,722 to Gablehammer Road in Westminster, $218,108 to Gorsuch Road in Westminster, $436,230 to Hoffman Mill Road in Hampstead, and $486,382 to Shiloh Road in Hampstead.

County officials estimate the survey will take five minutes to complete. Access it at

For residents and businesses with limited or no Internet connections, call 410-386-2309 to receive a paper copy of the survey by mail.

©2023 the Carroll County Times, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.