Years ago, Baltimore handed over the city’s broadband keys to Comcast who has since managed to piss off just about every single Comcast customer in the area thanks to terrible service and reliability. When Verizon finally managed to enter Baltimore, the city put little to no rules on the franchise agreement, allowing Verizon to simply sit on whatever current broadband infrastructure was already there.
“I’m paying more here for lesser service,” Baltimore city Chief Information Officer Chris Tonjes told the Baltimore Business Journal.
As just about every media outlet in Baltimore has reported in the last few years, the city government has begged and pleaded with Verizon to install FiOS service around the city….and continued to be ignored. This has put Baltimore residents in a situation where there choices are slow and aging Verizon broadband or unreliable and generally terrible Comcast service.
That isn’t to say that broadband providers haven’t come up with some hilarious excuses for not upgrading the internet in the area:
“It’s not just the wires that are going bad, it’s the switches,” said Sherry Lichtenberg, the principal researcher for telecommunications at the Washington-based National Regulatory Research Institute. “It’s really hard to find parts.”
Last month, a task force in Baltimore released a report giving suggestions on how to improve Baltimore city’s broadband capability. One of the suggestions was to look into whether the city was simply better off with their own citywide broadband network. No, this would not be some government run network. Like many other cities with a municipal broadband network, Baltimore would be able to leverage existing networks and private investment to make the city network run smoothly without raising taxes or charging high rates.
Yesterday, a group of community leaders wrote an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun begging the city to take action on their broadband issues.
We have the opportunity to connect our entire city with a fiber-optic infrastructure that enables access to affordable, high-speed Internet…for every home, school, library, company and city agency. The impact would be enormous. The reality is that Baltimore’s broadband infrastructure does not measure up to those in many other cities. While certain parts of the city have access to fiber-optic networks, the vast majority do not. – Baltimore Sun
Expect Comcast and Verizon to put up as many legal roadblocks to this as possible.