An Interview with a Community Networks Expert

Courtney Bird and Peter Cook interview Christopher Mitchell, the Director of the Community Broadband Network Initiative at Institute of Local Self Reliance about efforts such as ours. Christopher’s work focuses on telecommunications–helping communities ensure the networks upon which they depend, are accountable to the community. He is a nationally recognized speaker and author and has helped main communities such as ours. The video will be shown on FCTV and is also available here.

9 Bids received

We have received nine bids to our Request for Proposals for a company to do a feasibility study for the community network. This is a very good response and shows that there is significant interest in the project. We reviewed the bids and will be interviewing a set of finalists in the next few weeks. We expect to select a company in early October.

Demonstrated Reliability – Falmouth Enterprise Editorial

The small group that is making a case for creating a municipal high-speed fiber optic network argues that it will be faster, cheaper and more reliable than currently available options for internet access. They are no doubt right on all counts, although a feasibility study, which will soon get underway, will put these claims to the test.

The tempestuous weather of last week, however, already put one element to the test.

A municipal system would be built on the OpenCape network, which currently services the town, hospital and scientific institutions in Woods Hole. A town-wide system would connect OpenCape with homes and businesses. That is the expensive part.

But the reliability of OpenCape was in evidence when the storms, microbursts and tornadoes hit the Cape. Very few OpenCape customers lost internet access during that time; unofficial count we received was 13, and even then, that was due to loss of electricity.

The OpenCape network withstood the storms, even though—again an unofficial report—some 20 utility poles on which OpenCape’s cables were strung, were toppled. These numbers might not be quite right, but it can be said with certainty that the OpenCape network held firm.

This is something to consider as we head into hurricane season. The tornadoes Down Cape, as dramatic as they were, are but a preview of the damage that could be wrought by even a Category One storm. The tornadoes last week created winds from 90 to 110 miles per hour for a short time. During Hurricane Bob, not a particularly severe hurricane, gusts were over 100 miles per hour throughout the entire afternoon of August 16, 1991.

Internet access is not a luxury or a source of entertainment, although it is that for some. Today it is a necessary component of commerce and communication. Reliability is paramount.

Recent weather and the durability of OpenCape tell us that speed and expense aside, the reliability of a municipal broadband system connected to OpenCape is reason enough to hope that the small group that proposed it will gain widespread support.

Bidders for feasibility study sought

The EDIC has issued a Request for Proposal to companies who can perform the feasibility study for the Falmouth Community Network. This is a great next step. It is expected that a contract will be awarded by early September and that the study will be concluded in mid-March. The RFP is posted in the EDIC website. The national organization, Community Networks, has highlighted our work.