Another internet service provider has come to Baltimore.
Called Bridgemaxx, it’s not here to compete with Comcast — but its leader does want to offer an alternative for those in areas of the city with connectivity issues.
The Hunt Valley, Maryland company is a fixed wireless internet provider. That means it puts equipment on tower sites — for Baltimore, that’s Television Hills’ towers — then installs antenna on customers’ homes to bring them service.
Typically, it provides service out in the rural areas of the country where the price of installing broadband infrastructure keeps out major companies like Comcast and Verizon, Bridgemaxx founder and President Jim Connor told Technical.ly.
“This is an expansion based on all the jibber jabber we hear about Baltimore city being underserved,” said Conner, a Baltimore County native. “We all hear there’s a digital divide, there’s this, there’s that, people need better options than Comcast. So we’re throwing our hat in the ring.”
The jibber jabber Conner is referring to might be the likes of a 2020 Abell Foundation report noting that 40% of homes in the city lack wireline internet access. Or, there’s the recent protests by Students Organizing a Multicultural & Open Society about the slow speeds of Comcast’s low-cost broadband option, Internet Essentials, and the political pushback Comcast has been getting from politicians like 1st District Baltimore City Councilmember Zeke Cohen. (Internet Essential speeds have increased since the height of the protests, to 50 megabits per second download speed and 5 mbps upload speed, up from 25 mbps and 3 mbps, respectively.)
Fixed wireless isn’t as fast as a broadband connection, with the speeds Bridgemaxx offers for residential plans starting at 3 Mbps for $50 a month, or necessarily affordable for those depending on something like Internet Essentials. But what it loses in speed and affordability it makes up for in reliability, according to Connor.
“Our connection is not affected by a million little data points or a thousand telephone poles, or punch a cable in a ground and it’s got to go smoothly from one point to another to another before it finally gets to a customer destination,” Conners said of other options.
Is Bridgemaxx a replacement for Comcast? The answer to that depends on your situation. If you live in a neighborhood with a spotty connection, it’s possible that Bridgemaxx can offer more reliable, but not faster, service. For a household, reliability might not be the biggest issue — unless you’re working remotely, or have kids in virtual learning, that is — but for a business, an internet connection dropping out can mean dollars lost.
Bridgemaxx wants to be the back-up generator for a businesses internet connection.
“From what I understand, there’s pockets of the city where Comcast is unreliable,” Conner said. “It’s up and down. If you just want to watch TV and that’s all you’re doing on the internet, maybe you can live with that. But if you’re operating your business from home and your internet connection is constantly going up and down, that’s a problem, and that’s where we can come in and fill the gap.”
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-