Westminster, Maryland, began public consideration for community broadband investment last fall and has now decided to "stick our toe in the water and see how it works." The Carroll County Times recently reported that the community will move ahead with engineering for two community pilot projects.
Local leaders see this as an opportunity to flesh out any challenges for residential and business connectivity. Carroll Lutheran Village, a retirement community, was chosen for several reasons. From the article:
The residential pilot project, Carroll Lutheran Village, would cover approximately 90 acres, according to the feasibility study.
The area presents well-defined boundaries and enough population density to allow a relatively small fiber build to reach a relatively large group of currently unserved residents, the study states.
Carroll Lutheran Village will also provide insight into potential construction issues around single and multi-family housing, and the benefits and impacts of telehealth, according to the study.
Westminster's business pilot project, located in the Westminster Technology Park, is near the Carroll County Public Network (CCPN). The feasibility study notes the location as a good candidate for economic development and also a relatively dense area. We had a great conversation with Gary Davis from CCPN in episode #43 of the Broadband Bits podcast. Davis relayed how the CCPN is saving money and creating opportunities for Caroll County Public Schools.
Both Westminster projects include local cost sharing for construction; the city will use capital benefit assessment funds specially designated for such improvements. Estimate for both projects is $650,000.
Westminster's long-term goal is to connect every resident and business in the city. Like the situation all over the county, Westminster cannot convince large providers to bring the connectivity they need for economic development.