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Baltimore Looks to Expand Internet Access by Building Its Own Network

The city’s broadband chief says getting its large underserved population connected is “too important for the private sector.” But Comcast is pushing back. 

Comcast says it can close the digital divide in Baltimore by offering residents discounted service. Baltimore wants to build its own broadband network instead. 

Comcast says it can close the digital divide in Baltimore by offering residents discounted service. Baltimore wants to build its own broadband network instead. 

Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America

Baltimore has an audacious goal to build a city-owned broadband service that could give its poorest residents equal access to digital resources for education, medical services and jobs. 

The plan lands the port city an hour from the nation’s capital squarely in the middle of a national debate over who deserves a chunk of the $95 billion in federal funding Congress allocated to close the digital divide. It also pits local officials against Comcast Corp., the cable giant that already serves the city.