The collaborative efforts of Calvert government and the county’s lone cable broadband provider, Comcast, to service homes that have previously been unable to be connected continues.
The county commissioners received an update from government staff and Chris Comer, Comcast’s government and regulatory affairs director, on the series of ongoing projects.
The board voted to reimburse any resident who has had cable internet installed during 2021 as a result of receiving federal funds for the project. The $1.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds were allocated to Calvert by the Maryland Governor’s Office of Statewide Broadband.
Linda Vassallo, deputy county administrator, said the federal funds gave the project added money to provide cable to more than 60 county homes with long driveways.
The total cost estimate for the project is $3.76 million, and in the first two phases 335 homes have been identified.
Ashley Staples-Reid, a special projects manager in the county administrator’s office, said five projects have been completed.
The largest project listed in phases one and two is Barstow Road, with 173 homes identified.
Commissioner Kelly D. McConkey (R) stated that residents he has heard from said they have tried to get internet service through devices that are failing. As a result, “people can’t work from home” and children are unable to take advantage of virtual learning.
McConkey asked if the project could be prioritized.
Comer explained the complexity of the Barstow Road project, which involves 18 miles of new cable construction, with both underground and above-ground work required. He stated Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative “must approve the aerial component.”
Comcast has submitted applications to use poles with both SMECO and Verizon, and new poles may need to be installed.
“Once we get the green light that we can move forward with attaching, within six months we should have everything done,” Comer said.
The current estimated completion date for the Barstow Road cable project is next June.
Staples-Reid told the board a third phase has been added to the project as an additional 372 homes have been identified.
Both Vassallo and Commissioner President Earl F. “Buddy” Hance (R) urged citizens who would like the cable internet hookup but are not identified on the project map to contact county government now.
“This is not retroactive forever,” said Hance. “Now’s your time to get in line.”