Roughly one-third of Baltimore City does not have access to broadband Internet in their homes. As described in The Deutsch Foundation's Digital Access and Equity Report in Baltimore City 2017, the internet is arguably the most important communication tool of the 21st century and, therefore, lack of access is a critical opportunity gap that disproportionately affects low-income and minority households.
Waves is our proposed approach to bridge this divide through a community-driven network committed to providing highly available, transparent, reliable internet to Baltimore.
Waves was founded in 2018 as a response to the FCC's repeal of Net Neutrality.
From the Waves Team
Equitable access to high-speed Internet has never been more essential for citizens of Baltimore.
We are in an unprecedented time where households across the socioeconomic spectrum need access to telecommunications at a scale never previously expected to ensure their basic safety, well-being, and financial security. The combined isolating nature and prolonged length of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a situation in which the Internet has become an even more essential tool in both providing rapid, localized updates to a constantly evolving crisis and in maintaining the quality of life as it is crucial to helping individuals and communities stay connected to remote education and telework opportunities, reducing social isolation, and providing up-to-date health information. The pressing need for affordable, quality internet access during the COVID-19 pandemic has led institutions ranging from the FCC to public school systems to acknowledge how the Digital Divide puts disadvantaged communities at an even greater risk of profound educational, economic, and social alienation as better-resourced portions of society shift to operating remotely under quarantine. This further deepening of the Digital Divide will prove especially damaging if, as some experts predict, the increased reliance on digital technologies in education and employment continues long after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
Susan Crawford has written and spoken extensively how the US has fallen far behind the rest of the industrialized nations in terms of public access to Broadband Internet because of the monopolistic practices of companies like Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon.
“The rich are getting gouged, the poor are very often left out, and this means that we’re creating, yet again, two Americas, and deepening inequality through this communications inequality,” - Susan Crawford
Providing a service is one thing. Comcast claims they’re available throughout the city, and to be fair, they are. Thanks to the 2016 Comcast Franchise Agreement with Baltimore City, Comcast is available throughout the city. However, there is a big difference between availability and accessibility -- availability does not equal accessibility in terms of pricing and quality of service. Waves is a response to this; the lack of equitable internet choices in Baltimore paired with the unruly price gouging these providers engage in.
When folks talk about 21st-century skills, the fascinating thing is that we’re already 20% of the way into the 21st century. We’ve talked about the problem for decades, but let's start focusing on solutions. Together, we can build out community-owned networks across Baltimore where the main focus isn’t profitability -- but rather the human aspect.