A message from Representative Hunt outlining his plan to provide an alternative to Comcast's residential internet service on Cape Cod:
"If something isn't working, try something new. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn't, try something else."
Let's try to do something new.
Over the years, one of the aspects of life on Cape Cod that has frustrated me greatly as both a private citizen and a state legislator is how Comcast runs a de facto monopoly in residential internet services. Dial-up, DSL, and Hughes Satellite are not in the same bandwidth league as internet service via cable, and our only option for that is Comcast.
Verizon has repeatedly told me they are not planning to cross the Cape Cod Canal with their FiOS fiber optic service. The simple reason is that there is insufficient density on the Cape to warrant the required capital expenditures. It's a business decision. That leaves Comcast as the only provider of internet access to residential buildings in Barnstable County. Businesses have three or four services competing for their internet dollar, but residential customers currently have no other option besides Comcast.
I have a plan to change that.
Last week, my office filed an amendment to the House I Budget that, if included in the final fiscal year 2018 budget, would be a good first step towards breaking the monopoly. In short, Amendment #523, An Amendment Establishing Competitive Internet Access Throughout Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket Counties, would set aside $225,000 for the state to develop a pilot program with OpenCape to kick-start competitive residential internet service.
OpenCape, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, targets municipalities and large data users. It has made some inroads on the residential side, but it doesn't have the user base to sustain their operations. OpenCape is caught in a chicken-or-the-egg dilemma: to acquire customers, they need infrastructure; to build infrastructure, they need customers.
OpenCape's mid-mile backbone is a top-notch fiber optic network with tremendous capacity. To put it in perspective, the network has the capacity to funnel the entire world's internet traffic through it, multiple times over. It's incredible, it's underused, and it's right here on the Cape.
Our proposal, with its seed money, would help link customers to OpenCape's fiber optic network; consequently expanding the non-profit's user and fee base, and finally providing a viable alternative to Comcast on Cape Cod.
The Commonwealth has already made a $5 million investment in OpenCape. Altogether, the state, federal, and county governments, along with private partners, spent $40 million to build-out this robust network. Given the quality of OpenCape's existing infrastructure, its potential, and the investment we have already made, there is no reason why customers should still have to kowtow to a de facto monopoly.
My office is drumming up support for this amendment in every way possible. We've already secured the support of the entire House wing of the Cape Cod & Islands Legislative Delegation, as well as that of Representative Tackey Chan, an important and knowledgeable legislator from Quincy who is also the vice-chair of the House Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy Committee.
We need you to weigh in. We need to let the powers-that-be on Beacon Hill know that this is important to you as a consumer and as a voter.
To weigh in, send an email or letter of support to my office. It can be as short as two sentences. Feel free to copy relevant paragraphs or phrases from this message, if that'll help you. Please make sure to CC your legislator (if it's not me) on that message so that they know this is important to you.
We'll bundle all responses and hand-deliver them in waves to House Ways & Means before Budget Week, which starts six days from now, on April 24th.
All responses should be emailed to my aide, Matt Liber, at [email protected]
If you'd prefer to mail your letter of support, please use the following address: State House, Room 136, Boston, MA 02128. Address it to me.
You can find the text of the amendment by clicking this link
and scrolling down to amendment #523.
The details of the budget process, from budget proposals to amendments to a detailed timeline, can be found here