SOUTHERN MARYLAND — Congressman Steny Hoyer hosted a virtual roundtable on Sep. 9, 2021, with vital stakeholders from Southern Maryland who are trying to expand access to broadband internet. The meeting included state, county and regional officials discussing various ways to implement broadband and how important it is.
Broadband is the transmission of wide capacity data over a high-speed internet connection. It provides high-speed internet access with multiple types of technologies, such as cable, wireless and satellite.
“Having reliable, high-speed broadband is a necessity in the 21st century. This service allows Marylanders to utilize telehealth resources, improves educational tools and opportunities, and keeps communities connected and informed,” Congressman Steny Hoyer said. “I am hopeful that upcoming infrastructure legislation will build on House Democrats’ work and help close the digital divide in Southern Maryland. I will continue my efforts in Congress and work with the Biden Administration to push for greater measures that allow more Marylanders to benefit from affordable and reliable broadband.”
In an internet-based society, some might be surprised that broadband is absent from many communities, especially rural areas like Southern Maryland.
“Across America, 30 million households have limited or no access to broadband internet service, especially in rural areas. Broadband adoption is also a problem, especially in low-income areas, disproportionately among households of color. We are seeing the impacts of this right here in Maryland’s Fifth District,” Hoyer said.
Throughout the meeting, representatives mentioned the importance of broadband and the various strategies to make it more accessible. For example, Charles County’s broadband strategic plan was mentioned because of how they categorize the unserved residents and businesses of the community. The three categories include contiguous geographic areas, addresses on isolated roads and addresses with long driveways.
As broadband gets more attention from the government, this insight is important when transitioning from using the temporary funds of the Emergency Broadband Benefit to using the long-term funds of the American Rescue Plan.
“Hearing the concerns and the priorities of officials across Southern Maryland reinforced the urgency in our communities face in improving the deployment of broadband services,” Hoyer said. “Democrats have long prioritized this need and created emergency resources during the pandemic, including the Emergency Broadband Benefit, which provides a broadband subsidy for low-income families. In the American Rescue Plan, we secured billions in funding to expand access for schools and bolster broadband infrastructure for neighborhoods across the country.”
The community can expect more discussion on broadband and how it will be made more accessible uniformly across the counties in Southern Maryland while using the American Rescue Plan funds.