Baltimore-based broadband infrastructure company port link is building a 60-mile diverse conduit route between Baltimore, DC and Northern Virginia in the I-95 corridor. The project will provide increased access to high-speed wired Internet in communities and businesses along this route.
The infrastructure company is rolling out dark fiber, an industry term for fiber optic cable without a service provider. Think of it as a building built without an owner to manage rentals or tenants. Founding Partner and Chief Strategy Officer Felix Dialoiso Recount Technically he likens it to creating a toll road that internet service providers love Comcast and other broadband infrastructure companies like Crown Castle drive to provide the service.
This is the latest infrastructure investment for a persistent problem facing the region.
The high cost of laying these cables in rural communities or more disadvantaged parts of Baltimore explains why internet connectivity is low or non-existent in these areas. Fixed wireless ISPs like bridgemaxx or community mesh networks like Project waves step in and fill in the gaps.
Broadband infrastructure has been a major investment of the Biden administration, with $65 billion allocated to broadband in the Infrastructure Investment and Employment Act, as well as the $300 million that Maryland has allocated for broadband since the US rescue plan. These infrastructure investments are one of the main reasons Maryland has risen so high in CNBC The Best US States for Business list in 2021.
Beyond this project, Dialoiso said he wants to bring the same amount of dark fiber expansion to the city of Baltimore. This could help the city deal with increased strain on its broadband infrastructure as many businesses, government and schools transition to remote working. Its goal is to extend the city’s 700-mile conduit network that houses electrical and communications utility wiring that BGE and Comcast use by 70 miles. Those 70 miles would be used exclusively for broadband, reducing cable outages and fires, according to the CSO, because they won’t do the double duty of power and communications.
“The pandemic has pushed [the industry],” he said. “We want to open up the capacity to source supply so we can expand into all of those areas of Baltimore that are struggling.”
But before Baltimore’s plan can kick off, Dialoiso wants the remaining six years of his current franchise deal with the city, which he says has been reinstated in the Martin O’Malley the administration, renegotiated.
The I-95 project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2023.
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member of Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-