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Statewide Broadband Network Goes Live In Rural Md.

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Maryland senator Barbara Mikulski and governor Martin O'Malley receive a demonstration of the state's broadband internet network at the La Plata state police barracks in Charles County.
Matt Bush
Maryland senator Barbara Mikulski and governor Martin O'Malley receive a demonstration of the state's broadband internet network at the La Plata state police barracks in Charles County.

Leaders in Maryland are celebrating the launch of a statewide broadband Internet network. The state police barracks in La Plata, Charles County is the first site in Maryland to go "live" on the broadband network.

Patrolling the rural county can at times leave troopers all alone, but now the barracks can see cameras in patrol cars in real time. While that will help with public safety, governor Martin O'Malley says the biggest benefit may be that all schools will be eventually be connected to the network.

"In these times when debates in a lot of other state capitals and communities are all about cut, cut, cut, cut, cut...we say don't cut our children's future," says O'Malley. "Make these investments today."

Charles County may be the best example of this, says O'Malley, as the network will allow Mt. Hope-Nanjemoy Elementary school to receive broadband internet.  Currently, it is the only school in the county that doesn't have it due to its remote location.

Federal stimulus dollars are paying for the network. Senator Barbara Mikulski believes it can be an example for the many other areas of the country that are seeing similar transformations. She believes better broadband connections will mean more jobs, but she says that is something Republicans on Capitol Hill fighting the president's jobs plan don't see.

"My concern is that they're so busy trying to make sure he loses his job, that we're not fighting to create jobs for people," says Mikulski. "That's got to be our number one priority: private sector jobs. Broadband is like the railroad.  It lays the groundwork."

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