Good news! Falmouth’s fiber optic network is eligible to compete for its share of the $65 billion in broadband funds in the just-passed federal infrastructure act. If Town Meeting passes Article 22, it will strengthen Falmouth’s application for these funds by showing that we’re aligned with our state framework for municipal utility services. Passing Article 22, plus the January completion of FalmouthNet’s detailed engineering design work, would send a bold message of a town that’s shovel-ready.
Passing Article 22 would also help our town get private network funding.
Elliot Noss, the CEO of Ting Fiber, a network builder-operator that operates 11 community networks, has told FalmouthNet that Ting would be willing to build a network here with its own funds. But, says Noss, Ting Fiber is not in the business of convincing towns that they need a network. The passage of Article 22 would tell Ting Fiber, and other private companies considering investments in Falmouth’s network, that we’re network-ready.
Eric Turkington, in last week’s Enterprise, wrote that if Falmouth’s network, “were going to be funded by a private entity, or through federal or state grants, everybody would be in favor.” On this point, Eric and I agree.
The best way for Town Meeting to help is to pass Article 22.
Recent votes in Milton, Fairhaven and Northampton have won over 90 percent support for adopting the Massachusetts framework for locally controlled internet access services that Article 22 proposes.
There’s no downside to Article 22. It doesn’t obligate the town in any way. It is simply good planning, good preparation, and a strong signal to potential federal, state and private partners.