County Partners to Expand Broadband Connections
The Board of Garrett County Commissioners announced today that Comcast has expanded its footprint in the county by adding more than 370 serviceable addresses. This is a result of a collaboration between the County and the company to serve additional rural areas with broadband internet. In addition to Gigabit Internet service, county residents in Comcast’s recently expanded service area have access to all Xfinity services and businesses can get the full suite of Comcast Business products and services. “I’m very pleased with the progress we are making with not only Comcast but all of our providers. If it were easy, it would already have been done, and I really commend Nathaniel Watkins, Cheryl DeBerry, and Josh Hook for their creativity and hard work to continue to expand and improve access,” said Commissioner Paul Edwards. “They have really set the standard nationally for rural broadband expansion. We all understand there is more work to be done, but I think we have proven that we have the right people for the challenge.”
The challenges of rural broadband are not just the distance between residents and structures but also the terrain that can complicate installations and access. Unlike densely populated metro and suburban areas, acres of undeveloped property can be sandwiched between potential customers. Wireless broadband services have also proved difficult in a region where ridges and valley's prohibit a direct line of sight to transmit a signal. The new addresses, adjacent to Comcast’s existing service area, are located along portions of Avilton Lonaconing Road, Bittinger Road, Foy Road, Mosser Road, New Germany Road, Oakland Sang Run Road, Sunset Ridge, Accident Friendsville Road, Foxtown Road, Rock Lodge Road, and Firetower Road. Additional areas are being considered, and residents along these roads are asked to call 1-800-COMCAST to inquire about service. In addition to continuing to invest in its network to meet consumer demand, Comcast also offers Internet Essentials which provides low-cost broadband service, digital literacy training and discounted computers. “We are pleased to bring our state-of-the-art products and services to more residents and businesses in Garrett County and appreciate the county’s partnership,” said Michael Parker, Senior Vice President of Comcast’s Keystone Region, which includes Garrett County. Over the last several years, the county government has been working creatively and collaboratively with its Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to help expand local broadband service. This includes helping to identify service opportunities, assisting with permitting and, in some cases, providing access along its right-of-way. According to the Federal Communications Commission, high-speed internet is defined as an internet download speed of 25/3 Mbps (Megabits per second). As of the fall of 2019, the county estimates that broadband service was available to at least 75 percent of the County’s occupied addresses. As it partners with ISPs, the Garrett County broadband team is collecting as much service-level data as possible. This will help guide its efforts to reach innovative solutions and creative partnerships to expand broadband access and bring the fastest possible speeds to local residents and businesses.