Baltimore City Council considers blocking any future sale of city's conduit system, possibly to encourage public broadband system

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The Baltimore (MD) City Council is considering asking voters to block the sale of Baltimore’s 700-mile, century-old underground conduit system, a move supporters say could encourage a public broadband system in the future. The terra cotta system dates to 1898 and contains telephone, electric and fiber-optic cables. Owning the system leaves open the possibly for the city to create a public broadband network. Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young is the lead sponsor on a bill that would seek a charter amendment in Nov 2020 to permanently revoke the authority of city officials to sell the vast system. “I am introducing these two pieces of legislation to think further about how city government can better preserve and improve internet access for Baltimore residents, businesses, students and visitors,” Young said. “I have always been a proponent of keeping our city assets public.” A public broadband network, Young said, could ensure residents have access to affordable, high-speed internet.

City Council considers blocking any future sale of Baltimore's 700-mile underground conduit system