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Maryland County Still Working to Expand Broadband Internet

More than 400 residents and business owners have responded so far to a survey that Carroll County’s Technology Services created to gather information about access to broadband Internet connections.

A large roll of orange broadband cable sitting in a rural field.
(TNS) — More than 400 residents and business owners have responded so far to a survey that Carroll County’s Technology Services created to gather information about access to broadband internet connections.

The survey was posted last month at and remains open for responses. The county will mail paper copies of the survey to anyone who requests one by calling 410-386-2309.

Jay Uebel, broadband project manager in the county’s Technology Services department, told the Board of County Commissioners on Thursday that he has been happy with the number of responses so far.

“We’ll use the data to understand the type of service that residents currently have, and the experience they’re having with their providers,” Uebel said.

Uebel and Mark Ripper, Technology Services director,gave an update to commissioners on how the county is doing in providing high speed internet access to the underserved and unserved areas of Carroll.

County officials expect survey results to help Carroll gain access to grants and infrastructure funding from the state for broadband expansion projects.

Uebel said survey results would also be shared with any new broadband providers who would like to do business in Carroll. “They want to understand the state of broadband in Carroll County,” he said.

Currently about 6,000 homes in the county, or about 9%, are considered unserved or underserved, meaning internet service is unreliable, slow or unreasonably expensive.

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.

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 county commissioners allocated $415,000 to build fiber optic lines in four business parks: 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.

By December, the telecommunications company is planning to provide internet service to 80 homes on Sullivan Road in Westminster. Uebel said they are ahead of schedule, and the first customers could be online by the end of this month.

Quantum Telecommunications is also working to provide broadband internet to 1,206 homes in Taneytown, New Windsor, and Union Bridge. The work is in the engineering phase, and completion is expected in the summer of 2025.

Internet is also expected to be provided to 1,663 homes in western Carroll by the end of 2026.

Uebel said that Antietam Broadband plans to expand and eventually cover the whole county. The cable company is also in negotiations to rent office space in the county and will be hiring in the area.

The state is administering the Connected Devices Program, in which Chromebooks will be distributed to low-income residents. Uebel said the county is working with a number of nonprofit agencies to determine how many residents will need the Chromebooks.

“Unlike past programs, residents get to keep these Chromebooks,” he said. “They don’t have to give them back.”

An application to the state to receive the computers is due by Sept. 18.

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