This letter is in response to Comcast’s Jason Rebell letter to the editor of September 3. I believe it’s crucial the town facilitates FalmouthNet efforts to bring residential fiber optic access to all Falmouth homes.
Mr. Rebell pointed to the millions of dollars in upgrades Comcast has facilitated across the commonwealth. Unfortunately, Falmouth, specifically, hasn’t benefited. As FalmouthNet and EDIC’s Feasibility Study illuminated, Falmouth experiences frequent outages and slowdowns. This is likely because while other Massachusetts areas have been upgraded, we in Falmouth are still reliant on the internet infrastructure from Adelphia back when Dire Straits and Tears for Fears were topping music charts.
Mr. Rebell mentions a fiber-rich network. We would love a fiber network here in Falmouth. Alas, that doesn’t exist, except with few exceptions primarily for commercial customers. The limited fiber available is certainly not meeting the needs of residents because the speed fiber provides is worthless without consistent, reliable connections the last mile. Why fiber? Because while copper is tantamount to data delivery of a two-inch pipe, fiber is tantamount to data delivery of a 15-mile river. And that brings me to speed.
It is important to note that “broadband” does not equal “fiber.” Broadband is faster than dialup, but fiber is the technology we need for today’s needs. Mr. Rebell says Comcast offers broadband speeds up to 2 Gig for residential customers. Again, that may be true in parts of the commonwealth but not in Falmouth. In fact, this week Xfinity sales stated the highest speed available to my address in North Falmouth is 1.2 Gig—download. Download is great for streaming and internet surfing. Where we experience trouble—and where fiber is crucial—is upload speed. If you’re like me, your Zoom meetings freeze and your kids’ online classes get disrupted. That’s because of insufficient upload speed. The highest upload speed available on Comcast’s Falmouth wiring is 35 mbps. Fiber would easily provide 1,000 mbps upload speed, with plenty of room for increases above that.
For context, my son lives in Charleston, where fierce competition between AT&T and Comcast exists. His service is 1 Gig (1,000 mbps) up and down for $75 monthly. Our feasibility study revealed that we, Falmouth residents, pay some of the highest rates in the country. Mr. Rebell says that eligible families can apply for federal government assistance. But I believe all Falmouth residents deserve better pricing than a monopoly option offers. I believe a community internet, run as a nonprofit, will provide many, many more benefits and favorable pricing for the residents of Falmouth. Besides that, as a business owner I can attest that what drives down rates is competition. And currently, Comcast has a virtual monopoly in the Town of Falmouth.
For Falmouth to obtain the pricing, reliability and speed that we need and deserve, a competitive option must be made available. Falmouth is not alone. Towns all across the United States are taking the initiative to create the competition if the competition won’t come to them.
Marilois L. Snowman