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Petition Google to Lay Ultra-Fast Broadband on Baltimore

February 25, 2010
By is the one-stop shop to get Google’s ear. | Image by

A couple months ago, Verizon sent me a flyer offering 7.1 megabit-per-second internet service. My DSL speed has been around 3.0 Mbps, much slower than the speeds Comcast offers. I had been thinking of switching to the cable monopoly, but I figured that if I could more than double my speed at a slightly higher price—still cheaper than Comcast’s standalone internet package—I’d go for it. Six weeks and almost 20 phone calls (and uncounted hours) later I still had 3.0 Mbps. One limb of the organizationally confused behemoth literally doesn’t know what the other one is up to. So I’m about to jump ship again.

This city is full of similar stories—my neighbor tried to move from 1.5 to 3.0, experienced the same agonizing process, and ended up getting his phone service inadvertently disconnected. People get fed up with Comcast and jump to Verizon and vice versa. Some try Cavtel or other providers. XOHM wireless was nice but that tanked. And Verizon’s FiOS is still a cruel joke.

So like a lot of us who toil in the internet trenches, I was pretty enthused when Google said it was looking for communities to lay its superfast broadband fiberoptic cable. Google currently has an ultrahigh wireless broadband network in its home city, Mountain View, Calif., where speeds approach 1 gibabit per second—333 percent faster than my meager DSL, 666 percent faster than our work’s overtaxed T1 connection, and still an order of magnitude faster than your cable connection. The idea is to find communities (populations 50,000 to 500,000) that can demonstrate unique ways to use the superfast speeds. With a huge medical community that could lead the nation in digitization of medical records, a forward-thinking schools CEO, and a chronically underserved but technically adept population, Baltimore makes a good candidate. But I’m biased.

Local techies at Baltimore Fiber have put up a site where you can find more info about Google’s plan, put yourself on a map, get counted, and follow the tech group on Twitter and Facebook. Go there now, get counted, send Google your ideas, and maybe we can make a case that Baltimore would be a perfect community to try its experiment. I can’t imagine what a bureaucratic and logistic challenge it would be to lay those lines through the city, but I, for one, am willing to dodge around open trenches for awhile.

Simulcast classrooms like those Cisco commercials? Instantaneous transmission of high-res 3D medical imagery? The city becoming a hotbed of high-tech experimentation, attracting entrepreneurs and startups and investment capital? All great things. Streaming movies without latency hangups? Oh yeah.

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