A public meeting will be held Tuesday, June 4, at 7 PM in the Hermann Foundation Meeting Room at Falmouth Public Library to explore creating a Falmouth community Internet access network
A small group of Falmouth citizens have called this meeting because they have come to the conclusion that if Falmouth residents support a community network, it can be built. All Falmouth area residents who want more options for Internet service are invited to attend.
“There are over 800 community networks in the United States,” said Courtney Bird, one of the meeting organizers. “On the average, they are better, faster and cheaper than corporate networks like Verizon and Comcast.”
Mr. Bird said the Internet is as essential to people’s lives today as food, water, electricity and roads.
Cape Cod already has the backbone for this network with OpenCape. It is a middle mile network that serves schools, hospitals, libraries, town offices and businesses that need robust Internet connections all over Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts. It was built using $40 million of public funds to address the lack of network support. It is a self-sustaining 501(c)(3) that is a valuable community asset. It already serves over 40 locations in Falmouth.
David Isenberg, a Woods Hole resident and former senior advisor to the FCC on national broadband policy, will open the meeting with an overview of what a community network could mean for Falmouth.
“Internet access technology is now well-developed, and there are several financing options within Falmouth’s reach. The key is public support,” Mr. Isenberg said.
David Talbot, a nationally recognized expert on community networks, will put Falmouth’s anticipated network in context. Mr. Talbot is the author of a study called, “Community-Owned Fiber Networks: Value Leaders in America,” that was published by The Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. The report shows that customers pay less for community network services and understand the price structure better.
Mr. Talbot also serves on the Reading, Massachusetts, Municipal Light Department, a city-owned electric power provider. He said that municipal power arose in the 1890s when electricity was becoming a necessity. The big electric power companies often left smaller communities in the dark. Many these communities built their own power plants. Still today, about 15 percent of the electric power is provided by public companies. The parallel between public power and community Internet access, he says, is striking.
After Mr. Talbot’s talk, the meeting will be opened up for questions and comments by those in attendance.