Comcast has the lowest customer satisfaction rating of any ISP in the United States and now it’s exhausted the patience of an entire city. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that Baltimore’s city government is hiring “a broadband Internet consultant that would help the city develop a plan for expanding Internet service provider options for businesses and residents.”
At issue is the fact that Comcast has held what amounts to a monopoly in the Baltimore area for years now after it signed a cable franchise agreement in 2004 that won’t expire until the end of 2016. City officials now seem to regret signing this deal and are knocking Comcast for providing what they say is a service that’s both too slow and too expensive.
“I’m paying more here for lesser service, so I think one of the things we want to try to do is look at that, look at what [current companies] offer and try to incentivize people to offer more,” said Baltimore CIO Chris Tonjes, who previously worked as the CIO of Washington, D.C.’s public library system. “In the short-term, we’re going to do a study. In the medium run, we’re going to try to renegotiate the cable franchise agreement. In the longer run we want to make it more profitable for providers to come in here and offer the expanded service.”
Baltimore is still in the exploratory stages of the initiative but the city will likely build out some of its own fiber infrastructure that it will use to lure new competitors to the area. Jason Hardebeck, the executive director of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, tells the Business Journal that the city may also consider making its own municipal Wi-Fi network that will be run more like a public utility.