Baltimore Broadband Campaign

Bring Competition for Internet Services Through the Deployment of Fiber Optic to Homes, Businesses, and Anchor Institutions in Baltimore

Click Here to Join the Campaign

 

 

Library and Links

 

Why is there a campaign?  

What is this campaign?

What about communities beyond North Baltimore?

Who is launching this campaign?

What is the strategy?  

What are we asking of residents?  

How will the campaign work?  

What comes next?

Is Baltimore City government involved?

What is broadband?

How is my Internet speed measured?

How do I know what bandwidth I have?

What typical bandwidths are offered with DSL, cable or wireless?

What is special about fiber technology?   

What bandwidth and which technology do I need?  

How much do I pay for broadband now?  

If everyone doesn’t need fiber now, why is this a goal for the campaign?  

Does having fiber to your home impact your home value?    

Is fiber to the home unusual across the United States?   

What is the relationship of fiber availability and economic growth?

Is there an association between broadband investment and job growth?  

What happens when a community does not have fast Internet and are there communities that provide precedent?   

How can other communities participate?

How will we keep backers informed of our progress?

 

Why is there a campaign?  In a multi-community survey and a recent community meeting, residents expressed a desire for higher performance broadband service.  Also, residents expressed strong dissatisfaction with the absence of effective competition and its impact on pricing.  Most residents have only one provider from which to choose fast Internet services.  This campaign is the response. 

What is this campaign? The overriding goal is to improve broadband services for all in Baltimore. We are beginning in North Baltimore to attract investment to place fiber (optic technology) to the curb of all homes. This will allow much higher performance options, and we believe, will fundamentally change the marketplace. 

What about communities beyond North Baltimore? We want this campaign to spread throughout the City and that is our goal. We are starting here.  Previous efforts to bring services at one time to the entire city have failed so we are trying a different strategy.

We offer a mechanism for other communities who wish to join to do so.  Spread the word to friends outside North Baltimore.  We hope that by beginning here, we can change the market dynamic and increase competition, which will benefit all neighborhoods; even those who do not choose to join the fiber campaign.    Finally, when we release a request for providers for fiber, we intend to consider including other evolving technologies for some neighborhoods that might be more feasible and appropriate including wide area Wi-Fi.

Who is launching this campaign? Multiple communities including Roland Park, Roland Springs, Wyndhurst, Keswick, Mt. Washington, Homeland, Guilford, Hoes Heights, Cross Keys, Tuscany Canterbury, Evergreen and North Roland Park.

What is the strategy?  We start by identifying the potential demand for high-speed fiber services.  We want to know how many potential customers there are, since we believe that if Internet providers see sufficient potential demand, they will choose to respond to our request for proposal to supply such services.

What are we asking of residents? 

How will the campaign work?  Backers will indicate their support using CrowdFiber a crowdfunding application like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.  http://crowdfiber.com/campaigns/baltimore-broadband-coalition We will communicate using social media to spread the word.  We only have 3 months to reach our goal of at least 20% support in each community.

What comes next?We are developing a request for proposal for providers to place fiber to the curb of homes in this region.   We will give priority to those communities that reach the campaign goal of 20% support.

Is Baltimore City government involved? Yes, we have met with the Office of Technology and representatives of the Mayor’s Office and we have been encouraged to move ahead with this campaign.  They also offered to collaborate by sharing necessary conduit inventory information when a RFP is prepared.

What is broadband?Broadband refers to the different ways that high-speed Internet access can be supplied.  In Baltimore, broadband is provided via cable, digital subscriber line (DSL), satellite or wireless.  Fiber optic technology, allows for much higher transmission speeds, but is unavailable to homes in Baltimore except for very scattered new developments.

How is my Internet speed measured? Transmission speed, sometimes referred to as bandwidth, is conceptually, how much data could flow through the connection on average in one second and is analogous to how much water could flow through a pipe over time.  The higher your bandwidth, the “bigger your data pipe” and the faster data can flow to your home.  Data amounts are described in bits so speed or bandwidth as the number of bits of data per second.  Typical speeds are in kilobits (thousand bits) per second (Kbps), megabits (million bits) per seconds (Mbps) or even gigabits (billion bits) per second (Gbps). 

How do I know what bandwidth I have?  You can measure your own home bandwidth by going to www.Broadband.maryland.gov and click on “Take the Speed Test” or to www.Broadband.Gov and clicking on the “Consumer Broadband Test”.  Compare this speed to what you are promised in your contract.

What typical bandwidths are offered with DSL, cable or wireless?  Most homeowners use wired connections like DSL or cable for home service.  Typical DSL bandwidth available in Roland Park ranges from several hundred Kbps to 7.1 Mbps.   Typical cable bandwidth ranges from 5 Mbps to 20 Mbps but service up to 105 Mbps is offered.  There are different types of wireless technologies but they are currently less commonly used for home service.  Cellular phone bandwidth varies from several hundred Kbps to 8-10 Mbps.

What is special about fiber technology?  Fiber, short for fiber optic, converts electrical signals carrying computer data to light which then travels over tiny glass fibers.  Fiber provides the highest bandwidth with speeds ranging from that available with cable up to currently one gigabit per second (i.e. 1000 Mbps), 10 times faster than the fastest cable offering and 300 or more times faster than typical DSL.  Fiber bandwidth is sufficiently large that it is feasible to supply all of our video services including high definition television and streaming media as well as our phone and regular data needs.

What bandwidth and which technology do I need?  There are, of course, different ways we use the Internet: preferences differ and with higher bandwidth costs are more.  Of course, technology continues to change.  In our neighborhood, most have between 1-20 Mbs bandwidth. To receive high definition television over the connection, DSL connections are not adequate alone and bandwidths generally greater than 20 Mbps are probably needed.  With new technologies bandwidth requirements will continue to increase which is why this campaign has set its goal to bring fiber to the home. 

How much do I pay for broadband now?  Check your own bill to know for sure. This is wise, since comments at the community meeting concerning broadband seemed to imply that residents were paying different amounts for the same service from the same provider. Sometimes, this was due to promotions during the initial portion of a new contract, but there still seemed to be differences even after the initial promotional period.

Below is the monthly range of costs as of June 2013 gathered from the Comcast web site for various levels of service.

 

Comcast

20 Mbps

$42.95 to $64.95

50 Mbps

$58.95 - $74.95

105 Mbps

$114.95*

 

According to Verizon online representatives on June 15, 2013, Verizon only offers DSL service bundled with local home telephone service and that bundle currently costs $49.99 after promotion.  Bandwidth with DSL varies between download (that from the internet to your computer) of 3.1-7 Mbps and upload speeds of 768 Kbps. 

If everyone doesn’t need fiber now, why is this a goal for the campaign?  There will be some who do not need the full bandwidth of fiber now, so they might best consider using different technologies until their needs increase.  We need to set this goal now since data requirements continue to increase, and it takes time to implement fiber technology.  Starting now will best position our City for the future.  There are already more than 100 communities with fiber to the home and more join every week.  More than 800 providers supply fiber to the premises nationally.

Does having fiber to your home impact your home value?  Probably yes.  A recent marketing study by RVA, LLC estimated that if buyers considered two hypothetical $300,000 homes of equal interest except for broadband capability including fiber to the home and inside wiring, buyers would discount the home that did not already have high-speed connectivity by an average of $5,337.   (www.rvallc.com)

Is fiber to the home unusual across the United States?   Not really, when considering metropolitan areas.  In 2010, more than 17% of all homes in the U.S. were passed by fiber with over 20% in the State of Maryland.  In our region, Baltimore stands out by already having fiber, since it is available in the surrounding Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties.  In the map below, the areas in blue have fiber to the end user now.  Note in metropolitan areas, Baltimore and parts of Washington and Wilmington are outliers.

From:  www.broadbandmap.gov/technology

 

What is the relationship of fiber availability and economic growth? A 2010 marketing study by Broadband Properties (admittedly a firm within the broadband industry), found that “small businesses run from fiber-to the-home residences added $41.6 billion to the U.S. economy in the past 12 months” by calculating that in 700,000 FTTH homes with home-based businesses with revenues of nearly $60,000 apiece or close to $42 billion in total, that FTTH boosted their revenues about 20 percent, yielding an extra $5.3 billion.  http://www.bbpmag.com/2010mags/oct10/BBP_Oct10_FTTHMarketReport.pdf

 

Is there an association between broadband investment and job growth?  Many factors are certainly involved.  Jim Baller, a local attorney points to the association in, “The Killer App:  Economic Development and Job Creation,” and illustrates using ten specific examples, the impact of advanced communications. http://www.baller.com/pdfs/Baller_KillerApp_FTTH2012.pdf  (start on page 7)

 

Other articles addressing the issue are below:

 

 

 

 

What happens when a community does not have fast Internet and are there communities that provide precedent?   Clearly Iowa is different than Maryland, but the experience of a study of Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Iowa is interesting.  These two communities are closely adjacent in the Cedar Valley region of the state. Dissatisfied with private broadband deployment in their community, Cedar Falls chose to deploy a citywide municipal high speed fiber network, while nearby Waterloo chose to rely only on private local phone and cable companies, which was slower and not as universally available as was fiber in Cedar Falls.  Eleven companies relocated from Waterloo to Cedar Falls, while during the same time, no businesses relocated from Cedar Falls.  “Waterloo Mayor John Rooff concluded that, ‘Fiber optics is the key to Waterloo’s future growth. In order for Waterloo with its businesses to move into the 21st century, we need fiber optic capability…I believe it has hurt us economically to not be able to provide fiber optics to businesses locating in our city.’ ” Center for Creative Voices in Media, “The Case for Universal Broadband in the United States,” Oct. 1 2007 http://www.baller.com/pdfs/CCVM.pdf.

 

Other examples:

Andrew Cohill, “Danville Transforms its Economy With Fiber,”  Broadband Communities, http://www.bbpmag.com/MuniPortal/EditorsChoice/1111editorschoice.php

 

 

How can other communities participate?  Send an email to rpcommunication@rolandpark.org with the name of the community, your contact information and that of the your community association president.

 

How will we keep backers informed of our progress? We will send frequent updates with the campaign progress and when new developments occur.