Baltimore residents fighting for FiOS

Maryland’s DC and Baltimore suburbs have access to Verizon’s high-speed FiOS network – giving them an alternative to cable for TV, Internet and phone. However, the 621,000 residents of Baltimore City do not.

The city is poorer than surrounding communities, but nevertheless Baltimore residents do watch TV, use the Internet and make phone calls. But Verizon doesn’t seem to think that Baltimoreans deserve the same advantages as other people in Maryland.

That’s why one neighborhood in the city, Roland Park, backed by the statewide non-profit Progressive Maryland, has launched a broadband initiative to convince Verizon and others to improve choice and quality of broadband. Moreover, Comcast is the only choice for video – so there’s no competition to restrain costs and improve quality. FiOS is badly needed, said Roland Park Civic League President Phil Spivak. “There is so little competition,” said Spivak, “and we suffer in price because of that.”

CWA has campaigned for FiOS access in Baltimore, as it has elsewhere in the Northeast. As The Baltimore Sun wrote, “Last July, the Communications Workers of America protested at Baltimore City Hall against a deal between Verizon Wireless and cable companies that they said would hurt the city's chances of ever receiving FiOS.”

It appears CWA was right and despite the push from CWA, Progressive Maryland and others, there has been no progress yet. Despite backing from some politicians, the city’s political leadership has not united to pressure Verizon. As CWA spokesman Jimmy Tarlau told The Sun, “Unfortunately, Verizon has not made any attempt to wire the city with their FiOS network and (Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake) has remained silent on the issue.”

But Roland Park residents aren’t giving up, and Speed Matters supports them.

Roland Park Civic League to hold public meeting about broadband (Baltimore Sun, Mar. 13, 2013)

Buffalo coalition challenges Verizon for FiOS gap (Speed Matters, Feb. 10, 2012)

Maryland elected officials back CWA Baltimore protest (Speed Matters, Jul. 27, 2012)