Four wireless Internet service providers are poised to enter the market in southern Delaware to begin offering high-speed access to customers, particularly those in traditionally underserved, rural pockets of the county because of a new incentive program developed by Sussex County government in the past year.

Providers will supply their own equipment and independently market themselves to customers, while the county will provide space or pay for rental costs for up to two years on a mix of county- and state-owned towers.

BridgeMaxx, Bloosurf, Nuvisions/Broad Valley and DelmarvaVoIP/Conxx have submitted qualifying proposals to the county to provide high-speed access ranging from download speeds of 2 MB to 100 MB per second. The providers will broadcast signals to customers, focused largely on areas not served or underserved by cable or mobile telephone companies.

County officials believe the program is an example of government working with the private sector, which, in this case, has the technology, expertise and capital to respond to the community’s growing need for reliable, broadband service.

In 2017, Sussex County Council set aside $1 million in its annual budget, collected through the county’s share of Delaware’s realty transfer tax, to upgrade wireless communications infrastructure, in part to facilitate the expansion of high-speed internet access across the county. In addition to that, the county has been working with officials at the state level to discuss ideas for expanding broadband Internet in the county.

One option is the new county incentive program. Under the plan, the county will subsidize the cost of renting space on two state-owned communications towers for up to two years; after that, providers whose equipment remains on those towers would have to bear the rental costs themselves, said Dwayne Kilgo, the county’s information technology director. Meantime, the county will make space available on approximately a dozen towers it owns, giving providers the infrastructure to build a network array that serves a broader geographic area.

Among the areas that will be targeted initially are in and around Bridgeville, Dagsboro, Georgetown, Greenwood, Gumboro, Laurel, Lincoln, Long Neck, Roxana and Seaford. As providers expand their networks and enroll more subscribers, other areas of the county would join the list of Internet-served communities, said Kilgo.

For more, visit sussexcountyde.gov/broadband.