Last year, Maryland announced that it would begin work on connecting 4,200 square miles of cities, towns and anchor institutions to an ultra high-speed broadband network called One Maryland Broadband. Howard County was deemed the project lead and yesterday, they released their first RFP. The county is looking for small and minority-owned businesses to help build the state’s $115 million stimulus-funded network.
The network is expected to be complete by August of 2013. The county will be creating a list of small and minority owned businesses that it will encourage contractors to hire from. By recruiting small and minority owned businesses the state hopes to put some of the grant money into directly creating jobs for these sectors of the economy.
Once completed, the network will provide Maryland’s first fiber backbone with the necessary redundancy for homeland security and will connect local jurisdictions, public safety agencies and foster economic growth throughout the state. Anchor institutions included in the network are: public schools, colleges and universities, libraries, hospitals and transit centers. The service area will connect Marylanders from Baltimore, Annapolis, the northern capital district and central Maryland passing over 1.8 million households. Project coordinators hope that by providing middle-mile service, it will be easier for last-mile providers to increase access statewide.
“One of the most invaluable aspects of the ICBN project is the project’s commitment to creating jobs and opening up economic development opportunities where none previously existed,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.