SB 540 and HB 999, bills to give Choptank Electric the regulatory flexibility it needs to begin offering broadband, will be heard in Annapolis on February 25th in the Senate Finance Committee and March 5th in the House Economic Matters Committee.
Choptank Electric Cooperative wants to play a bigger role in solving the rural broadband crisis. We want to use our proven delivery model to bring reliable Internet service to every member — the same way we brought electricity to every rural household in our territory 80 years ago.
“The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is expected to auction off over $20 billion for broadband delivery to rural communities next year,” Choptank CEO Mike Malandro explains. “I’d like to position Choptank to bid on those funds to provide broadband to members faster and more comprehensively than other start-ups.”
In Maryland, 36% of residents lack internet service that meets FCC standards — most are in rural areas, like the Eastern Shore.
According to the FCC, it is estimated that at least 6.3 million households in electric co-op service areas lack high-speed internet access. New research shows that a lack of rural broadband to those unserved co-op households leads to $68 billion in lost economic value over 20 years.
Benefits to co-op areas include improved health care, online learning opportunities, increased productivity for local businesses, higher housing values, and consumer savings through access to more products from competitive online sellers.