Time To Act!

(The following is a letter to the editor published in the Falmouth Enterprise on Feb. 14)

The Falmouth community could enter an internet competition, and the results of a new survey indicate that residents are ready to embrace it.

The survey of Falmouth residents randomly selected from voter rolls was conducted by Doug Dawson of CCG Consulting, a firm that helps communities build their own fiber optic networks. The survey is the first phase of a feasibility study for a locally controlled, broadband internet service.

The Falmouth Economic Development Industrial Corporation provided funding for the study. The data from the survey were released at the EDIC Meeting on Tuesday.

Mr. Dawson found that 70 percent of those surveyed want better internet service in Falmouth. And almost 90 percent say that they want more options for their internet service and lower prices.

The results are significant and shouldn’t be surprising.

The vast majority of Falmouth residents rely on Comcast for the delivery of their internet; 83 percent, according to the survey results.

That’s a monopoly.

The survey also found that Falmouth residents pay on average $183 to Comcast a month. That’s more than $30 above the national average.

A monopoly in action.

Perhaps more significant than price, though, is service. The powerful storm of October 17 cut power to Woods Hole, causing residents of a village to go without power or internet access for three days. With climate change, such storms will cause worse and more-frequent blackouts.

The survey found that about half the residents surveyed have experienced an internet blackout, a vast majority of those lasting more than one day.

In an age when we rely on internet connections for communication and even basic necessities, that’s unacceptable.

Perhaps the most telling result of the survey: Mr. Dawson projects that some 60 percent of Falmouth residents would be customers of the community network we envision. Not only does that mean residents are weary of a monopoly providing internet connections, they also think the community can do a better job.

Knowing this, Falmouth should act.

Hundreds of localities around the United States, including several in Massachusetts, are planning, building and operating their own internet access services.

As the Falmouth community network committee, we believe it is time to start now.

Falmouth residents who want to know more or get involved are invited to contact us. We’re available to present information at community gatherings including school meetings, professional meetings and neighborhood get-togethers. There’s a Facebook page with more information at facebook.com/falmouthcommunitynetwork/.

Courtney Bird
Sippewissett Road
Falmouth

Phone survey shows strong support for a community network

The recently completed survey of Falmouth residents shows strong support for a community based network. In professional study conducted by CCG Consultants, 70% said they wanted better Internet service and 92% wanted competitive options. The survey was the first part of a broader feasibility study which will now enter a second phase to examine construction details and develop financial models.

See the news articles in the Falmouth Enterprise and the Cape Cod Times for additional details.

Video of the Survey Kickoff Meeting

FCTV recorded the Dec. 12th kickoff meeting and you can watch it here. Members of the EDIC and the Falmouth community network group talk about the need for a local network. Next Doug Dawson, the president of CCG discusses how his company will be conducting the survey and answers questions from those attending.

The Falmouth Enterprise also wrote about the meeting in this article.

Kick-off meeting for network study – Dec. 12 – 6:30 PM – Falmouth Library

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.