In May 2020, the BAC recommended to the QAC Commissioners strategic uses for federal CARES Act funds made available during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to June 2020 approval of broadband expansion to unserved areas in District 1. This project was completed at the end of December 2020.
CARES Act funding also enabled building a public wireless network on public lands, parks and libraries, to bring broadband to additional unserved and underserved communities. This project, in partnership with Atlantic Broadband, was cut short due to staffing cuts at the company, and the only project completed was a Wi-Fi network at the 4-H Park.
In January 2021, the BAC submitted nine applications for a federal grant to expand existing broadband networks for QAC’s three fiber ISPs: Atlantic Broadband, ThinkBig, and Talkie Communications. Pending approval, this expansion will cover a few hundred residences.
In addition, the BAC drafted for Commissioners’ approval letters of recommendation for ISPs to apply to the Maryland State Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program. This program allows the ISPs to apply without County involvement.
Also, the American Rescue Plan Act was recently voted into law as a part of federal pandemic relief efforts, and communities across the nation will be receiving resources for broadband.