Monday, March 29, 2010

Backing Baltimore

The Tales of Two Cities blog argues that the time has come for HoCo to get behind Baltimore's bid for Google's super-fast broadband service.

After all, for all our talk about being technologically hip, we just can't seem to generate much excitement around here. Which seems weird given that we live right next door to an employer (Fort Meade) that already probably knows a thing or two about the benefits of super-fast broadband.

Two Cities writes:

According to this article by Miguel Helft in The New York Times, “that offer has become catnip for city leaders, civic boosters and economic development types across the nation.”

“The mayor of Duluth, Minn., threw himself into the ice-ringed waters of Lake Superior. The mayor of Sarasota, Fla., immersed himself in a tank filled with bonnethead sharks, simply to one-up him. The mayor of Wilmington, N.C., said that he would even jump out of an airplane — with a parachute, of course.”

I have to admit that the Google Howard County effort looks pretty lame in comparison. On the other hand, the city of Baltimore has made a much more compelling argument for why Charm City should be the choice.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ulman On Kojo

The HoCo exec goes on the Kojo Nnamdi's WAMU show "The Politics Hour" and expresses his frustration at the county's failure to snag a piece of stimulus funds intended to help spread access to broadband.

"Frankly, we were shocked. It was a window into the stimulus and how frustrating it is to push money out the door. I understand the due diligence, but at some point we need to get money out the door and create jobs." (Hat tip to the folks at WAMU)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cracking The Top 25

We found this post on a blog called Connected Planet interesting: Howard County apparently ranks 25th nationally in the speed our our broadband.

To get some feel for the range of speeds, the number one county on the list, Nassau County in New York, boasts a median download speed of 15.0 megabits per second and a median upload speed of 4.4 megabits per second. The number 25 county, Howard County in Maryland, had speeds of 10.7 megabits down and 2.8 megabits up, according to Craig Settles, a broadband consultant who works with local communities on broadband projects and who is a business partner with ID Insight on the Broadband Scout project.

In the greater metropolitan area, only Arlington and Calvert County rank higher.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

No Broadband For You

The Central Maryland group that sought to get a piece of $7.2 billion in stimulus funds set aside to extend the reach of broadband in the nation came away empty handed after the first round. HoCo was a member of the coalition, and county executive Ken Ulman was one of the champions.

Here's the Sun's account:

Jessica Schafer, a spokeswoman for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said there were more than 1,800 applications, but just 58 awards in the first round. Another $2.6 billion is up for grabs in the second round, she said. A separate group of rural counties called the Maryland Broadband Co-op also failed to get any of the money in round one.

Ulman said his staff was taken aback since commerce officials called and e-mailed daily for more information or clarification of various points. The letter from Anthony G. Wilhelm, director of broadband technology, said the Central Maryland group reached the final stage in the awards.

Warnings Issued In Halloween Shooting

The Sun reports that the owners of the house where a young man was killed and another injured during a Halloween party last year have finally been warned.

This after the paper reported that: Police said they had been called to the 11501 Manorstone Lane residence 13 times since the beginning of 2008 — including an earlier party there, in June, at which shots also were fired.
The notices and letters included the following:

• The Howard County Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits wrote in a letter to the homeowners that they had violated the county building code by hosting “parties open to the general public,” such as “nightclubs and dance halls” do. Since the home is zoned for residential use, the homeowners would need to apply for a permit to change its zoning to “assembly use,” wrote department director Robert Frances.

If the homeowners host parties there in the future, county officials will “immediately post the structure as unsafe, vacate the premises and issue a civil citation,” Frances wrote. Civil citations can result in fines of up to $500 per day, he added.

• The Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning ordered the homeowners to “cease use of the property as a commercial nightclub/dance hall” or face fines of up to $500, court injunctions or other penalties.

• The county Fire Department charged that the homeowners created a “hazardous condition” when they held the alleged party and could face fines of up to $500 if they hold such events in the future.

• The Health Department wrote in a letter to the homeowners that they had violated the county health code by serving food at a “public event” without consulting health officials and that they must not hold any future parties without doing so.