ILSR’s Christopher Mitchell recently published an opinion piece in the Baltimore Sun. Comcast has abused its standing as the dominant provider for years and the community is examining options. Mitchell’s op/ed addressed the issue foremost in the mind of Mayor Stephanie Rawling-Blake: jobs and connectivity.
In the past, City leaders have considered investing in a network but never moved beyond the idea stage. The City hired Magellan Advisors this summer to provide options, identify anchor tenants, and review risk assessment. There are considerable fiber resources in place around Baltimore and Magellan Advisors will analyze possible uses.
Mitchell provided some context by referring to other communities that have invested in municipal networks. He also reminded readers that Comcast and big cable take extreme measures to mislead the public to secure their dominance.
Mitchell put the situation in context by focusing on the real purpose of municipal networks:
Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of community owned networks are doing exactly what they intended — breaking even financially while providing a valuable public service. Big cable companies argue that these networks have failed if they aren’t making big profits each year, a misunderstanding of public accounting. Community owned networks aim to break even, not make a profit.
He also reminded readers that the path to strong economic development is not an easy ride, but one that increasingly depends on better local connectivity options:
None of these successes mean local governments should rush unprepared into a network investment. Nor should they be scared off by cable lobbyists trying to preserve what is effectively a monopoly. Building a successful network is a challenge, but so is trying to grow an economy while relying on yesterday’s technology at artificially inflated rates.
Read the entire op/ed in the November 25, 2013, edition of the Baltimore Sun. You can also read our coverage of Baltimore at MuniNetworks.org.
Read ongoing coverage related to networks at ILSR’s site devoted to Community Broadband Networks. You can also subscribe to a once-per-week email with stories about community broadband networks.