State commits million dollars to Sussex Co. broadband access
Gov. Jack Markell announced Thursday the recipient of a one million dollar state grant to expand broadband access in Sussex County.
The grant has been awarded to Fibertech Networks, a network services provider based in Rochester, New York. The funds will be used to connect residents and business to the high-speed broadband line from Middletown to Georgetown that was completed in 2014.Fibertech first began building networks in Delaware in 2004, when they installed rings in Wilmington. In Sussex County, they plan to build out 36 miles of fiber optic cables from Georgetown, 18 miles west to Seaford and 18 miles east to Lewes.
This is the first award from the Delaware Broadband Fund, established in 2013 as a part of Markell’s ongoing initiative to boost internet connectivity in Sussex County.
Markell emphasized that broadband access should not be a luxury and is vital to economic prosperity in the state.
If we don’t understand the value that high speed internet plays in economic development, that gap between rich and poor is only going to get significantly worse," said Markell.
Delaware is currently boasts the highest statewide internet connection speed in the country at 17.4 megabits per second. But upon closer look, faster speeds are more present north of Dover.
A State of the Internet report last fall showed a significant jump in the First State’s connection speeds, which was attributed to efforts to expand broadband access in Sussex County.
Mike Hurley, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Fibertech, says he believes this project can continue that trend.
“We envision ourselves as an enabler, we think that this model works, we think it’s very sustainable, we’ve proved it in other states, and we’re very excited about it.”
Markell, joined by state and local elected officials, announced the award at the Milford headquarters of Burris Logistics, a retail service company that has benefited from the latest efforts to increase internet access downstate.
Additionally, Sussex County is currently having a $100,000 fiber optic loop installed in Georgetown, which is expected to be completed later this year.