06/27/2010 - The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is now over a year old. While our economy has yet to fully emerge from recession, the media's focus has naturally shifted over the past year to other important matters, such as the health care debate and the horrendous Gulf oil spill. For Marylanders, though, the time to revisit attention on ARRA — better known as the federal stimulus bill — is now.
ARRA provided the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) $4.7 billion to support the deployment of broadband Internet service through a variety of initiatives, including broadband infrastructure. The state of Maryland and a broad consortium of key local government and private sector partners submitted the One Maryland Broadband Network application for approximately $140 million in broadband infrastructure funding, seeking to take advantage of an historic opportunity to build a broadband network that reaches the entire state.
Yet, just as this funding represents an historic opportunity to move Maryland forward, it also represents an opportunity to be left behind. Since NTIA began awarding funding in December of 2009, over $1.2 billion has been dispersed, including more than $341 million to three states surrounding Maryland — Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. According to the report just released by the Pew Center on the States entitled "Bringing America Up to Speed — the States' Role in Expanding Broadband," Maryland ranks 42nd in the percentage of broadband connections that meet the "stimulus standard" of providing connections of at least 768 kilobits per second. However, Maryland has yet to receive funding for any broadband infrastructure project. As Maryland becomes a hub for the technology-based economy of the 21st century, the lack of an interconnected broadband network will pose a formidable roadblock to the its economic success.
Read the entire article Maryland's Broadband Future on the Baltimore Sun Web site.