Most of Falmouth remains unconnected to the high speed fiber optic network called OpenCape that was completed last year, but a local economic group wants to see that the final stretch of broadband is built.
“We could use high speed connection to draw more businesses into the community,” said Falmouth Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC) chairman Michael B. Galasso.
State Representative David T. Vieira (R-Falmouth) has asked for $80,000 from the state that the EDIC would use to hire a consultant to prepare a “last mile” study. The organization wants to gauge demand for broadband by local residents and businesses, how connecting the “last mile” can be done, and if the EDIC is the appropriate agency to spearhead the project.
The OpenCape network is a framework of broadband Internet connectivity across the Cape and to Providence and Boston. The $40 million project was paid for with federal and state funds and will allow municipalities, hospitals, scientific facilities, schools and libraries access to an Internet superhighway through fiber optic cable at no cost.
It is up to private companies to provide the “last mile” services to deliver the high speed connections to homes and businesses.
“Right now there is no mechanism for individual businesses to hook up to the service,” Kevin E. Murphy said at a recent meeting selectmen’s meeting. In many cases, he said, companies want a financial incentive to make the “last mile” connection.
The EDIC sees high speed connectivity as a way to lure businesses to Falmouth’s Technology Park.
“Right now businesses there are just now getting access to standard business speed. The difference between that connection and OpenCape is like driving the back roads of Falmouth versus on an open highway,” said Mr. Galasso.
CapeNet, the company that manages OpenCape, must allow network access to any business or group willing to pay because the project is a funded, open-access system.
Mr. Murphy, former EDIC member and selectman, said he wants people to understand that connecting to the last mile won’t be free.
In fact, access nodes on the OpenCape network are at the least a half mile apart and it costs $50,000 to $60,000 per mile to run fiber optic cable to them.
Rep. Vieira said he worked with Senate President Therese Murray’s office to secure the funds. Once the $80,000 is distributed to the town, the EDIC will send out the request for proposals.