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Commissioners Address Broadband Concerns in St. Mary's County

LEONARDTOWN, Md. – The last several months have been a busy time for many while students and educators prepared to start the school year in a virtual setting. Two grants from the State of Maryland – the CARES Middle Mile Grant and the Broadband for Underserved Students (BUS) Grant have been approved to help close technology gaps in the county and to provide connectivity to underserved areas of the county.

The Commissioners of St. Mary’s County encourage a competitive market. Cable television systems permanently occupy and use valuable Public Rights-of-Way. The use of these local Rights-of-Way by the cable television providers are detailed in a Cable Franchise Agreement(s), in which the Federal Communications Commission allows Local Franchise Authorities (LFAs) to negotiate for cable television services. The Commissioners of St. Mary’s County encourage any Cable Television Provider to establish a Cable Franchise Agreement.

On March 14, 2002, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Declaratory Ruling (https://transition.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Cable/News_Releases/2002/nrcb0201.html ) “..adopted another major rulemaking, part of a series of actions, designed to promote widespread deployment of broadband services..” Additionally, “...the FCC concluded that cable modem service is properly classified as an interstate information service and is therefore subject to FCC jurisdiction” (emphasis added). The Commissioners of St. Mary’s County have no authority to regulate broadband services.

Recognizing the broadband needs of our community, the Commissioners of St. Mary’s County have funded significant investments in the existing infrastructure. These actions have leveraged Federal, State, Board of Education, and Commercial partnerships to expand services throughout the county. While the Commissioners of St. Mary’s County have limited authority to regulate broadband services offered in the county, their proactive use of the cable franchise agreements to expand coverage within the county has resulted in the current CARES  Middle Mile and BUS Grant projects.

For more information, visit www.stmarysmd.com/broadband or https://www.stmarysmd.com/it/cable/.

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