Garrett County, Maryland: Connecting the Unconnected

In Garrett County, Maryland, a $435,000 ARC POWER grant is helping the Broadband Customer Connect Program install 7,500 feet of broadband conduit, extending the deployment of fiber broadband services to 300 homes. According to its most recent Broadband Strategic Plan, Garrett County has roughly 6,000 unserved households.   

ARC’s 2024 Chartbook, an annual data report on Appalachia, shows that 88.3% of households nationwide have a broadband internet subscription, but 15.2% of households in Appalachia are lacking one. The growing rural-urban “digital-divide” is not only between the region and nation, but also between the region’s rural and urban counties. As the need for broadband continues to increase for education, telehealth, and job opportunities, communities need more support than ever to get connected. 

By installing broadband conduit, the new program will help rural residents who struggle to pay the thousands of dollars required to extend broadband service down long driveways to their homes. A stronger broadband connection will also allow residents to better connect with their communities, start and grow businesses, access remote jobs and online learning, and more. 

When attracting new families to our county, we’re finding that broadband availability is very high on their list of requirements. Helping our Internet service providers expand their service areas will allow our current residents and businesses to thrive, while attracting new talent to the region.

Paul Edwards, Chair, Garrett County Commissioners

This POWER grant builds on more than 10 years of broadband expansion efforts in Garrett County, including previous ARC funding that helped purchase equipment for the Garrett County Broadband Expansion Assistance Program. The 2022 award will help offset the costs of labor to run those machines. 

The county commissioners will work with qualifying internet service providers to identify homes in need and ensure appropriate cost reductions are applied when connecting the new services. By directly supporting the expansion of broadband availability in unserved areas, Garrett County is building the infrastructure needed to keep their community moving forward.   

Attendees at ARC’s 2022 Conference, One Appalachia: Connection & Collaboration, learned more about the project when Garrett County joined the Breakout Session on Partnerships for Affordable Broadband Connectivity.