This is an all too familiar tale of a city embarking on a broadband venture where only the consultants make money (Sorry friends). Residents of the city want to see competition but turn to the government. When that fails they start a grassroots effort. Unfortunately any grassroots campaign will not be enough to even fund a neighborhood. I wish this coalition the best of luck but they need to use their funds to get someone that can try a novel approach to engage a public/private partnership to drive broadband competition.
Baltimore was among dozens of disappointed cities when Google announced it had picked Kansas City, Mo., for a high-speed fiber-optic data network in 2011, but officials vowed to continue fighting for fiber nonetheless.
Nearly four years later, some are disappointed by the lack of progress— and want to show that some of the fervor that wooed Google remains, waiting for new, affordable options for fast Internet service.
A community group based in North Baltimore has attracted more than 900 people and nearly $17,000 in donations to a crowdsourced campaign, the Baltimore Broadband Coalition. Backers aim to demonstrate untapped demand for companies that might invest in a fiber network for Baltimore, possibly alongside city officials who have spent the past two years exploring options and expect to share their findings by year’s end.
Networks made of fiber-optic cable are capable of carrying significantly more information at faster speeds than traditional copper-wire networks. Fiber broadband can deliver speeds of as much as a gigabit per second. The fastest speed Comcast lists on its website for Baltimore customers is 150 megabits per second, though a spokeswoman said it offers 505 megabits per second.
While the campaign doesn’t offer any guarantee of new Internet service options, organizers said they hope it will help draw attention to the region’s “digital divide” and eventually spur investment in fiber here.