Comcast, Verizon, Shentel score as Maryland awards $92M for broadband

Comcast and Verizon each bagged more than $10 million this week, winning substantial sums as the state of Maryland awarded 35 broadband grants totaling $91.6 million.

Money from the Connect Maryland Network Infrastructure Grant Program is set to help connect around 14,500 locations across the state. Project costs for the 35 awards are expected to total $143 million, with grantees contributing the remaining $51.4 million not covered by state support.

Funding was fairly evenly divided between six big winners. Choptank Electric Cooperative topped the list with $16 million worth of awards covering projects in Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s, Wicomico and Worcester Counties. Local ISP Quantum Telecommunications bagged $15.3 million for a series of builds in Carroll County.

Comcast was close behind, snagging $14.4 million for work in Baltimore, Calvert, Charles, Garrett, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Another local ISP, ThinkBig Networks won $12.2 million to expand access in Harford County. ThinkBig has been working in Harford for some time, having previously inked a dark fiber access deal with county officials in 2021 to fuel its rural expansion there.

Verizon scooped up $11.1 million to build in Cecil, Charles, Garrett, Howard, St. Mary’s and Washington Counties. Meanwhile, Shentel got $9.4 million to expand its network in Frederick County.

Other winners included Talkie Communications ($6.4 million), Bay Country Communications ($3.6 million) and Easton Utilities ($3.1 million).

This award round is somewhat smaller than $127.6 million distributed through the Connect Maryland Network Infrastructure Grant program in July 2022. Winners then included Comcast, Charter Communications, Shentel and Breezeline (formerly Atlantic Broadband).

Comcast’s earlier grants totaled more than $17 million and covered Baltimore and Charles Counties. Shentel also notably got $10 million for a project covering 3,000 locations in Frederick County. It previously said it planned to begin construction work on that build in 2023.

Thus far in 2023, Comcast has bagged at least $145.7 million in grants from Florida, Georgia, Maryland and South Carolina.