Carroll County government officials are asking county residents and businesses to respond to a survey about access to broadband Internet connections.
Information gathered in the Carroll County Residential Broadband Survey will help officials identify areas of the county where broadband infrastructure does not exist or where Internet service does not meet the Federal Communications Commission’s suggested minimum speed for appropriate service, according to a release. county government press .
According to Broadband USA, part of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the term broadband refers to always-on, high-speed Internet access that is faster than traditional dial-up access. Broadband includes various high-speed transmission technologies, such as fiber, wireless, satellite, digital line and cable.
Broadband speeds vary by internet service provider. The FCC requires consumers to have access to effective download speeds of at least 25 megabits and effective upload speeds of at least 3 megabits. Connection speed is usually measured in megabits per second.
The county expects the survey results to paint a clearer picture of residents’ access to high-speed Internet and help the county prepare a plan to improve broadband Internet access throughout the area, the release said. press. The data could have a direct impact on grants and infrastructure funding for the county’s broadband expansion projects.
About 90 percent of Carroll County has some form of Internet access, plus satellite and 5G hot spots, which add up to nearly 100 percent coverage, the county website says.
However, the county realizes that there are many pockets of unserved or underserved areas in the county, including areas where access to service is impractical or unreasonably expensive, the website says. An underserved area is defined as having unreliable service or slow Internet speeds.
County officials have worked for years to improve broadband connections for underserved and underserved residents and businesses in the county.
Carroll County is not an Internet service provider, but the county works with private ISPs to use the county’s fiber network to expand their networks, said Chris Winebrenner, communications manager for the county.
Over the past 18 months, Carroll County service providers have received $37 million from the state and federal governments to bring broadband to the underserved, 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 about 3,000 more families who are not served and are not covered by the current plan. This is why the county survey is very important to help identify remaining unserved residents.
Since 2007, the county has invested $15.6 million in broadband infrastructure construction and expects to complete infrastructure construction by 2025.
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The county began construction of more than 110 miles of fiber-optic lines in 2007. More than 130 state and local agencies have been able to connect to the network, including county offices, Board of Education buildings and schools, the Carroll Community College, the Carroll County Public Library System, emergency response facilities, courthouses and city offices.
The expansion continued in 2011, when the county received $6 million in federal funds, along with a $2 million county match, to build the fiber backbone, the nerve center of an ultra-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 at 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 north Carroll County, saw improvements in their internet service. This happened in part due to state and provincial grants.
The following year, Quantum Telecommunications received five district grants from the state for broadband expansion in Hampstead and Westminster. These included $369,920 at Hampstead’s Brodbeck Road, $309,722 at Westminster’s Gablehammer Road, $218,108 at Westminster’s Gorsuch Road, $436,230 at Hampstead’s Hoffman Mill Road, and $486,382 at Hampstead’s Shiloh Road.
County officials estimate the survey will take five minutes to complete. Log in to carrollbroadband.info.
For residents and businesses with limited or no Internet connections, please call 410-386-2309 to have a hard copy of the survey mailed to you.
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