The state of Maryland will award $29,472,131 in grant funding to expand broadband internet access for over 12,000 households in 18 counties, Gov. Larry Hogan announced.

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Office of Statewide Broadband (OSB) will administer the awards, teaming up with local internet service providers and governments to provide broadband access to underserved communities in Maryland.

“These awards continue our ongoing efforts to make broadband access available and affordable for all Marylanders,” said Gov. Hogan. “As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increased focus on ensuring internet connectivity and building infrastructure that helps bridge the current digital divide.”

OSB was established within the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development earlier this year and these awards will be the first administered by the office. The grants will help reach the stated goal of 98 percent universal broadband access by the end of 2025.

“Lack of access to broadband must be addressed, regardless of the reason,” said Kenrick Gordon, director of the OSB. “The Office of Statewide Broadband will partner with local governments and internet service providers to ensure connectivity in communities that lack access and, in areas with existing service, increase affordability for low-income residents.”

Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Frederick, Garrett, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, St. Mary’s, and Washington counties will receive a combined $5,444,337 in grant funding to expand existing broadband networks, aiding 2,587 households.

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Baltimore, Calvert, Talbot, Caroline, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Allegany, Worcester, Garrett, Dorchester, and Wicomico counties will receive a combined $24,027,794 in funding for new broadband infrastructure reaching 9,698 households.

Baltimore City, along with Anne Arundel, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties will not receive any broadband aid through the new grants.

The state of Maryland has administered $56 million in Federal and state funding for broadband access since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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