Maryland Sen. Pugh says Baltimore's broadband proposal is 'destructive'

Baltimore's move to hire a consultant to see whether it would make sense to build its own fiber-based broadband network as another option besides Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) has drawn fire from Maryland Senator Catherine Pugh (D-Md.).

In a Baltimore Sun column, Pugh wrote that building a municipal-owned network is "as destructive as it is unnecessary" because the city and other areas in the United States have plenty of broadband service options.

"Broadband is an extremely competitive market--more so than it ever has been," Pugh wrote. "Over 80 percent of the public can get super-high speeds of over 100 Mbps, and nearly all Americans can (or will soon) get four different wireless 4G technologies with speeds up to 20 Mbps. Prices per megabit are dropping quickly."

Pugh noted that Provo, Utah, recently had to sell its municipal fiber network to Google Fiber.

"For the most part, municipally-built broadband networks have the economic chips stacked against them and, where tried, have saddled local taxpayers with a mountain of debt and half-built networks that are then sold at fire-sale prices to vulture investors," Pugh added. "Taxpayers in Provo, Utah, for instance, spent $40 million to build a relatively small and modest network only to sell it for $1 a few years later because they underestimated the massive costs of operating, upgrading and maintaining it."

All municipal providers have faced challenges of state laws in 15 states that prohibit the build out of municipal networks as well as often costly lawsuits from area incumbent providers.

For more:
- the Baltimore Sun has this article

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