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Baker Helps Initiate Inter-County Broadband Network

WI Staff Report | 8/3/2011, 11:26 a.m.
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Karen R. Toles, Council Member, Prince George's County Council District 7, and Prince George's County Exec Rushern Baker and several of the kids who will benefit from the Inter-County Broadband Network (ICBN) during the groundbreaking at Samuel Massie Academy in Forestville MD./ Photo by Michael Yourishin

Incredibly swift broadband network will create jobs, technology, and access for Maryland

Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III recently helped break ground for a construction project that will lay broadband fiber across Prince George's County and through the other jurisdictions that make up the Inter-County Broadband Network (ICBN). The fiber will span over one hundred miles, connecting 119 new sites within Prince George's County to one another and to the network as a whole. County Executive Baker was joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by United States Senator Barbara Mikulski, Governor Martin O'Malley, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, Prince George's County School Board Chair Verjeana Jacobs and Prince George's County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite, Jr.

The ICBN is part of the One Maryland Broadband Network (OMBN), a partnership between public and private agencies across the state that includes the Maryland Department of Information Technology (DoIT) and the Prince George's County Office of Information Technology and Communications (OITC). Last September, the One Maryland Broadband Network won $115,240,581 in grant funding through the U.S. Department of Commerce's Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).

$72 million will be used to lay broadband fiber in the ten Central Maryland jurisdictions that make up the ICBN: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Prince George's and Montgomery counties and the cities of Baltimore and Annapolis. The entire project is expected to connect over 1,000 community sites statewide and create 2,000 jobs over the next three years.

"The Inter-County Broadband Network (ICBN) represents a phenomenal opportunity for Prince George's County, demonstrating the benefit of partnering with other jurisdictions to expand our capabilities as a region," said Baker. "This day represents a victory for all of us - our schools, public safety facilities, business community, and our region as a whole. I want to thank Senator Mikulski, Governor O'Malley, and Howard County Executive Ulman for their leadership on this project. The ICBN will improve our quality of life, and create jobs in Prince George's County and the State of Maryland."

"Broadband is the information superhighway we need to bring the jobs of tomorrow to Maryland," said Senator Mikulski, a long-time champion of broadband access and the Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee on Capitol Hill, which funds the Department of Commerce.

"Broadband is absolutely critical to Maryland's job and economic growth. First, it will bridge the 'digital divide' that has for far too long redlined and sidelined communities without access to the information superhighway. Second, it will connect people to the jobs of today, and create the jobs of tomorrow by fostering business growth and sparking innovation."

The funding parameters established by the federal government for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) mandated a focus on "middle-mile" fiber that connects "anchor institutions." The grant selection process rewarded applications that focused on connecting schools and public safety facilities.

Prince George's County and the other members of the One Maryland Broadband Network conceptualized and designed their network with that model in mind. The process of site selection was based on a collective desire to maximize the amount of fiber that could be constructed and the number of sites that could be connected.Raheem Turner, 5th grade student at Samuel Massie Academy reads a statement about what the new Inter-County Broadband Network (ICBN) will mean to him and thousands of students like him. / Photo by Michael Yourishin

"Broadband is the backbone of a 21st century cyber infrastructure - and therefore of innovation, job creation, education, and entrepreneurship," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "Working with our federal and local partners, we are strengthening the connections between citizens and their government, bridging the gaps between opportunity and progress."

"The broadband fiber that will link Prince George's and Howard counties, among others, will create more than just economic development opportunities," said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. "The project represents unprecedented cooperation among local, state and federal governments, and I applaud Executive Baker for his vision in helping move this initiative forward."

"We are looking forward to the opportunities this technology will present for both students and educators," said Dr. William R. Hite, Jr., Superintendent of Schools. "It will not only provide access to advanced learning technologies via the Internet, it will expand our options for internal data sharing and interactive video in the classroom."