Howard County has announced funding that will expand access to broadband internet in rural western Howard County. The $1.7 million investment is in coordination with the state of Maryland and Verizon, and builds on the efforts of the Transform Howard initiative. More than 350 homes will gain access to broadband services as a result of the funding.

In 2021, County Executive Calvin Ball launched Transform Howard, its blueprint for digital equity and inclusion. Rural areas have always presented challenges for Internet service, but the new funding, along with the County’s previous investments in their fiber network, will allow expanded high-speed Internet access across Maryland.

“The agricultural community uses broadband access as an essential tool for modern agricultural production. Not only does it allow farmers to do simple tasks like follow commodities markets and communicate with customers, it has also become a necessary component in the data collection and analysis tools farmers are using both in their livestock operations as well as maximizing their crop yields,” said Howard County Farm Bureau President Leslie Bauer. “Broadband access is the next step to help reduce their environmental impact and help Howard County farms remain sustainable for many years to come.”

Previously, Ball has worked with the Howard County Public School System to increase its broadband capacity in school buildings to support learning. His administration has also expanded free Wi-Fi to 22 locations around the region, including public libraries, public parks and fire stations.

The project is set to begin later this year.