Baltimore Sun – December 31, 2016
by Natalie Sherman
Three years ago, the state completed one of the nation’s largest public investments in a fiber optic network— installing hundreds of miles of cables that politicians said would secure fire and police communications, spur economic development and lead to faster, cheaper internet.
Today, much of that potential remains untapped, lying unlit like a 21st-century highway to nowhere.
The network, much of it financed by $115 million in federal stimulus funds, connects primarily to public buildings, like schools, libraries and police and fire stations. But many of the extra strands installed in anticipation of private-sector demand lie dark.
“Right now, it’s an asset that’s underused,” said Joseph Carella, program manager for the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology.
But as jurisdictions around the region unveil deals to lease some of the publicly owned strands, there are signs that could be changing. …
Christopher Mitchell is a researcher for the Institute for Local Self Reliance, which follows broadband efforts across the country. In other countries, he said, developers responding to tenant demand have played a critical role in building out networks with competitive offerings.
“I’m glad to hear that real estate is getting more involved in this,” Mitchell said. “I would expect to have more of this.”