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Freshly Inked Deal to Provide Rural Delaware with Broadband

The Department of Technology and Information signed a contract with Maryland-based broadband company Bloosurf to expand broadband access to 127,000 rural residents and businesses.

Delaware made a push to expand broadband access through a new partnership with a Maryland-based Internet service provider Bloosurf.

State officials and high-speed wireless network company executives penned a contract on May 30 solidifying the deal.

The Delaware Department of Technology and Information (DTI) estimates about 127,000 homes and businesses will benefit from the three-stage project. The state will pay $2 million to add routers at 14 Internet towers and for new fiber-optic lines in Kent and Sussex counties. Delaware will have ownership of the routers for seven years, according to the deal. Once installation is completed sometime in 2021, residents can expect minimum speeds of 15 megabits per second. 

Chief Information Officer James Collins said Internet access is now a necessity like other public utilities. 

“Without it, kids can’t do their homework and businesses are unable to operate effectively in the information age,” Collins said in a release. “The Carney Administration has made it a priority to bridge both the accessibility and affordability gaps of high-speed broadband to ensure that all Delawareans benefit from the unprecedented access to information and collaboration technology affords.”

Gov. John Carney’s office and DTI issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in July 2018 with the goal of eliminating broadband “deserts” in Kent and Sussex counties within two years after selecting a vendor. Bloosurf will be required to provide reach to 75 percent of the targeted areas, according to the RFP. The three phases consist of a fiber backbone, a wireless rural broadband pilot project and the expansion of rural wireless broadband. 

Bloosurf founder and CEO Vincent Sabathier said during the signing that he expects his company to reach 84 percent of residents and businesses outlined in the agreement. 

“Bloosurf will leverage DTI funding, DivComm towers, its know-how, its assets and its strategic partnerships to design, deploy and operate a LTE- advanced network,” Sabathier said in a prepared statement. “This network will significantly enhance coverage and speed in rural areas. We will also work closely with the state to make this new service affordable to low-income families.”

Carney said his constituents use the Internet to do almost everything and they need fast, affordable service to be successful in the modern economy. 

“This initiative will connect Delawareans in rural areas that have long been underserved by high-speed internet service — or not served at all,” Carney said in a release. “We are pleased to be moving forward to additional progress.”

Patrick Groves was a staff writer for Government Technology from 2019 to 2020.