IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Gov. Hogan Launches Connect Maryland Broadband Initiative

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that an additional $100 million will be used for broadband expansion through the newly minted Connect Maryland initiative to bridge the state’s digital divide.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan last week announced the launch of an initiative to invest in broadband and bridge the digital divide: Connect Maryland.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the need to address the digital divide, it has also inspired a flurry of action in the space. Maryland, like other states including Virginia and Missouri, will be using funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for broadband expansion.

In his Aug. 20 announcement, Hogan said the state’s goal is to ensure broadband for the entire state by 2025. The Connect Maryland effort has three main components to reach that goal: funding, creation of an advisory group, and a subsidy program.

The initiative includes a $100 million investment to expand broadband access, an additional investment that will be paired with the $300 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding that was announced in March.

The next component is the creation of a Maryland Broadband Advisory Workgroup, a bipartisan group that will include members of the General Assembly and county and municipality representatives. The group will advise on how to best invest this funding.

Because it is a new group, it is yet to be determined how exactly the group will collaborate with the Office of Statewide Broadband, which was created following the passing of the Digital Connectivity Act of 2021. However, the state’s broadband director, Kenrick Gordon, noted that there will be a relationship between his office and the work group.

Finally, the initiative includes the launch of the Maryland Emergency Broadband Benefit Subsidy Program. The program seeks to make broadband more affordable for individuals from low- and moderate-income households. To be eligible, a household must be approved under the Federal Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.

The federal program offers a monthly discount of $50 to eligible households. With the state assistance, these families can receive an additional discount of $15 per month.

As Gordon noted, one of the hopes for this subsidy is that it will allow families to increase the speed of their service to allow them to more easily participate in school or work from home — without increasing their bills.

“The Connect Maryland initiative is just going to strengthen the work we’ve been doing,” explained Gordon.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.