Richard said the city made overtures to Verizon, encouraging the company to build the new network and working with Verizon to "cut through the red tape."
The fact that the community is now so well-wired has attracted new businesses and encouraged entrepreneurs, many of whom can work out of their homes, he said.
"Anecdotally, we are seeing the greatest explosion in home-based entrepreneurs," Richard said. "I think what we're seeing is a growth in both millennials and baby boomers who are entrepreneurs."
In Baltimore, some civic and consumer activists support the idea of expanding fiber-optic service to increase competition with traditional providers, such as Verizon and Comcast, which could lead to lower prices that a broader swath of the population could afford.
At the symposium, John Horrigan, consumer research director at the FCC, said studies have shown that the technological availability of basic broadband service is not the main problem because 95 percent of Americans have the technical means to access it. Rather, nearly a third of Americans are choosing not to use broadband, citing high costs or a lack of digital literacy or computer skills.
"Broadband adoption is not distributed evenly," Horrigan said.