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/.