Comcast to wire city schools for high-speed Internet access

18 to receive free service, and 22 more are lined up

May 06, 2004|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

Comcast Corp. will wire 18 Baltimore schools for high-speed Internet access and provide the service for free, officials announced yesterday at West Baltimore's North Bend Elementary School, one of the schools to receive the service.

In addition, Comcast officials have said they will extend service to any school in the city where it is needed. The system has lined up 22 more city schools for wiring.

"Comcast has agreed to do it -- and, boy, mayors like to hear this -- for free," Mayor Martin O'Malley said.

Although many city schools were not wired for computers as recently as six years ago, O'Malley said, they now have one of the best students-to-computer ratios among Maryland school districts.

"We are making a lot of fast progress," O'Malley said. Of the city's 181 schools, about 40 have not been wired under a years-long program, partly funded by the federal government, to put at least four computers in every classroom, according to Greg Burkhardt, director of classroom support systems for city schools. However, the system hopes to complete that work in the next two years.

Comcast provides the wiring so students can have high-speed access at five computers in the media center in each of the schools.

"These children are our future leaders and employees, and we need to make sure we give them all the tools to be the best they can be," said Michael Parker, vice president and general manager for Comcast Baltimore City.

Comcast has offered the same free service to Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford and Howard counties, and has wired more than 300 schools across the state, according to Kirstie Durr, a Comcast spokeswoman.

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