The expansion of high-speed broadband Internet will be a "game changer" for Western Maryland in the way the B&O Railroad once was, U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski said Monday as she visited Hagerstown Community College to announce a $115 million federal grant to expand broadband access across the state.
"It means over 1,000 jobs just to lay the fiber optics," Mikulski said. "It's just like laying railroad tracks."
The project also will help with jobs long-term as the increased bandwidth availability will make the area more attractive to data-related businesses, officials said.
"As we look for ways to really jump-start this economy and make sure we're prepared for recovery, bringing broadband to our rural communities is a big part of that," said Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who joined Mikulski at the press conference.
Maryland won the competitive $115 million federal stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce and will use it to install 1,200 miles of Internet cable, officials said. The network will reach every county in the state and will focus on areas underserved by broadband, Brown said.