• Talbot Chamber Position on SB540 & HB999 Choptank Electric Coop-Rural BB for Eastern Shore Act 2020

  • January 29, 2020
     
     
    Michael E. Malandro
    President & CEO
    Choptank Electric Cooperative
    10384 River Road
    Denton, MD 21629-0430
     
     
    Dear Michael,
     
    The Talbot County Chamber of Commerce has been, and will continue to be, engaged in and supportive of solutions to the rural broadband issue on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
     
    We compliment Choptank Electric for taking the initiative to address the problem of lack of rural broadband accessibility.  With over 600 miles of waterfront access Talbot County has a large number of waterfront properties.  The first question potential buyers of properties in Talbot County ask Realtors is the access to and affordability of broadband.  It is critical to Talbot County’s tax base that broadband be made available to our rural community at an affordable price so that we maintain property values.
     
    The problem of rural broadband is not associated with utility regulation; it is a matter of population density and funding and utilization of new technology. If Choptank is interested in using their utility resources to enter this competitive marketplace, there are existing provisions in the State of Maryland’s Affiliate Regulations for pursuing a waiver. This would be the logical first step in the State of Maryland. Federal and State government programs are now available to support the financial requirements of rural broadband projects, and new technologies are being deployed to help solve the rural broadband problem for those who pursue these innovative and cost effective solutions. These federal funding programs are already available to Choptank Electric Cooperative without the potential risks associated with deregulation and loss of consumer protection.  
     
    The Talbot Chamber looks forward to reviewing the final draft of the Rural Broadband for the Eastern Shore Act of 2020 and being given the opportunity to support legislation that will deliver the affordable broadband and associated services to our rural community.
     
    In summary, the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce fully supports solutions for providing affordable rural broadband and we look forward to providing additional input and perspective as the proposed legislation moves forward.
     
    Respectfully,
    Alan I. Silverstein, IOM
    President & CEO
     

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