A growing body of Falmouth residents envision a fiber optic community internet access network that’s faster, more failure-resistant and less expensive than today’s commercial offerings, with better customer service, too.

Recently the Falmouth Economic Development and Industrial Corporation approved funds for a study on how to build such a network. The study would explore how to finance the Falmouth network, whether it would actually have advantages over Verizon and Comcast services, how many customers the network could attract, how long it would take to build, and what mix of technologies it would use. It would also gather public input and solicit comments about services, pricing, availability and other concerns; after all, it would be our network.

Of course there are questions about such an undertaking, as there should be for any multimillion-dollar public project. Are current and planned Comcast and Verizon services good enough? Is OpenCape the right builder/operator? Should we charter a light and power district to run the network (as several western Massachusetts towns have done)? Or should we partner with a private company that’s in business to build and run networks for communities?

The EDIC-chartered feasibility study is designed to answer questions like these in an open, public way, so we, the citizens of Falmouth, can make decisions based on solid information.

Falmouth’s businesses have suffered summer slowdowns that cause lost sales because they can’t process credit cards. Last summer’s five-day Verizon Internet outage was intolerable in an era when we depend on the internet for almost everything. And FIOS, Verizon’s fiber optic service, its best residential product, stops on the other side of the Cape Cod Canal. Falmouth deserves better than this.

Maybe the study will tell us we shouldn’t build it. More likely, it will give us alternatives with several plausible paths to success. Maybe the mere fact that we’re considering a Falmouth community network will spur Verizon and Comcast to up their game. In all cases, Falmouth wins simply by doing the study and considering the results.

David S. Isenberg

Sumner Street

Woods Hole

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(1) comment

Gadfly

Watch your wallet, folks.

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