The Falmouth Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC) will kick off a feasibility study for a community fiber optic network for Falmouth at a public meeting on December 12 at 6:30p in the Hermann Room of the Falmouth Public Library, 300 Main Street.
At the meeting, Doug Dawson, President of CCG Consulting, the contractor selected by the EDIC to lead the study, will provide an overview of the project and will encourage those in attendance to share their experiences and ask questions regarding Internet services available now or in the future in Falmouth.
In announcing the kick-off meeting, Christopher Land, Chairman of the Falmouth EDIC noted “All sectors of Falmouth’s economy require reliable, high speed Internet service. This first ever assessment will give us a handle on what problems our residents and businesses are experiencing and whether a community fiber optic network is a possible solution”.
The idea of a Falmouth community network was conceived by a grassroots group of Falmouth residents as a competitive, locally controlled alternative to service providers like Comcast or Verizon. In June, the Falmouth Community Network Group brought its idea to the EDIC, Falmouth’s non-profit economic development corporation, and the Board voted to fund a $50,000 feasibility study. The group has continued to work with the EDIC to move the Falmouth community network study towards reality.
Today’s Internet connections in Falmouth are subject to summer overloads and weather-related outages. Verizon’s most advanced residential service, FIOS, doesn’t cross the Cape Cod Canal. As a result, Comcast has the only high-speed residential service in Falmouth.
As conceived by advocates, the proposed network would provide a competitive alternative to existing commercial internet service providers. By making high speed fiber optic technology more widely available, the Falmouth community network would support reliable service and fast internet access. In addition, the network would have the capacity to serve Falmouth’s summer population while also supporting the year-round economy. A locally controlled community-based network would offer better customer service and more transparent rates.
Currently there are 16 Massachusetts communities with locally controlled internet access networks including the eastern Massachusetts towns of Taunton, Norwood, Braintree, Concord and Reading. Falmouth is one of twelve Massachusetts towns that have announced moves (actions) to explore community networks in 2019.
The Falmouth feasibility study will survey Falmouth residents and businesses about their current internet services. It will examine Falmouth’s communications infrastructure to determine the cost of building the envisioned network and it will specify several options for financing and operating the network.
The study’s findings are expected next spring.
In July, the EDIC, working with the Falmouth Community Network Group, issued an RFP for consultant services to complete the feasibility study. Nine firms responded with proposals. CCG Consulting, based in North Carolina, was selected by the EDIC at its November meeting. CCG Consulting, in business since 1997, is a full-service telecom consulting company for small communications carriers. It has completed over 200 similar feasibility studies for clients around the country. Many of these clients are local and county governments.