NEW CARROLLTON, MD. (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday morning that the Board of Public Works has approved nearly $9.6 million in funding to support broadband internet connectivity for rural areas across the state.

The funding could connect more than 5,000 households and businesses in Maryland’s rural counties and communities.

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“This rapid and unprecedented shift to teleworking and distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic further demonstrates the importance of high-speed internet access for all Marylanders,” said Governor Hogan. “This funding continues my administration’s proactive efforts to increase broadband service in our state’s underserved communities.”

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The Office of Rural Broadband provided nearly $2.3 million to eight local jurisdictions in western and Southern Maryland and on the Eastern Shore through the Maryland Broadband Pilot Funding Program. With this funding, the state said local governments will partner with an internet service provider to extend existing networks to incorporate underserved or unserved households.

The projects getting funding will give internet access to more than 1,300 households and around 70 businesses in these rural communities.

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Nearly $7.3 million was provided through the Maryland Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program, to support broadband infrastructure to expand services. Around $5.1 million will support three large-scale projects in Somerset, Garrett and Charles counties. Nearly $2.2 million of this funding will go to the Maryalnd Broadband Cooperative, Inc., and will extend the service to an estimated 950 households in Allegany, Charles, Dorchester, Garrett and Wicomico counties, the state said.