The four phases of Baltimore city's fiber-ring overbuild. Map courtesy of the City of Baltimore.
Digital equity appears to be a priority for the mayor.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake made an appearance on Washington Post TV to extol the virtues of broadband access and digital equity.
“You have to have broadband access,” Rawlings-Blake said, in order to have a vital city. But the mayor also said between 20 and 40 percent of Baltimore’s roughly 620,000 residents don’t have access to the Internet in their homes.
Watch the interview with Rawlings-Blake:
As Technical.ly Baltimore has reported, the city is now exploring ways to increase broadband access to parts of Baltimore without any. A chief tenet of the overbuild of its 54-mile fiber ring is digital “equity,” as city CTO Chris Tonjes said in September.
And there was much effort expended to lure Google fiber’s project here, as any Baltimorean around in 2010 remembers.
The reason for desiring faster Internet service, as Rawlings-Blake said in the Post interview: “You can’t grow jobs with slow Internet.”
Of course, some of the reason for the sub-par broadband service Baltimore currently has is due to the city’s existing contract with Comcast. It’s in the interest of big telecommunications companies (and their political acolytes) to prevent municipalities from establishing their own broadband networks — the City of Baltimore owns its conduit — which would create competition to drive down prices and, potentially, provide better service.
In the interim, the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology has tried to increase Internet access in smaller ways, by providing free WiFi outside Penn Station and in Baltimore’s six historic public markets.