OpenCape Exec Talks about Residential Internet Service

Steve Johnston explains proposed residential service pilot program

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This week State Rep Randy Hunt floated a budget amendment to pilot test of competitive residential internet service through the OpenCape network. 

Given our readers’ high interest in this project, we reached out to OpenCape Executive Director Steve Johnston for more detail about the proposed pilot program.

First-off, Mr. Johnston corrected one item that was reported by another media outlet.  That outlet quoted Rep. Hunt as saying home network connections could be done wirelessly and still provide 1 gigabit download speeds.  That is not accurate.

Mr. Johnston explains, “As we look at connecting communities it really will be a mixture of wireline (wired Fiber) and wireless.  Remember we are trying to plan and design for the next 20, 30, 50 years.  Connecting Fiber to the home or (premise) really works best when there is a wired connection to the home ( you can reference the Leverett, MA case study on our website) which talks about how the community of Leverett connected every home, every business in order to be most cost effective and even if you didn't want service initially, 5 years down the road you might change your mind.”  

“When you try to look forward and plan, we have no idea of what type of bandwidth people will require in 20 years.  Currently, we are delivering from 20 Mbps to 1GB & 10GB service here on the Cape & Islands.  Shortly, if someone required a 100GB connection.....we could deliver that via our 100% Fiber state-of-the-art Network.   The point remains that a wired connection gives us massive flexibility as technology changes (we don't want to be locked into one solution).  Wireless is an important part of the equation.   We certainly see a wireless component to any community build, ensuring that we are covering public spaces, outdoor spaces and public safety areas of concern  ( I was just talking to the National Seashore yesterday about this very issue)   If we can use wireless as an effective means of delivering service we will certainly try.”

OpenCape Today

Mr. Johnston reports that OpenCape “currently services some 130+ clients including 9 of 10 public high schools, fire station, police, libraries, etc.”  In the private sector he says OpenCape is “aggressively expanding our service to leading businesses like Honer Mills, Cape Air, Woods Hole Inn, Hyline Cruises and more.

Open Cape currently connects 55+ AT&T cell sites on the Cape in order to improve cellular service.

Regarding wireless communication, Steve explains, “Our Microwave Network is positioned to be ready to offer service to critical communications should we have a scenario where a storm damaged telephone poles ( the Hurricane of 1938 damaged some 25,000 poles on the Cape)   We are positioned to restore critical communications in hours vs days, week and months.”

Looking Ahead

Mr. Johnston continues, “The initiative that Randy and the Cape & Island Legislators have spearheaded is really the first step.  The Commonwealth has focused massive attention on Western MA connectivity to the tune of some $90 Million dollars, OpenCape has received $5 million from the State as we constructed the backbone of the Network (under budget and ahead of schedule).   We are hoping this initiative shines the light on the need for more investment in the Internet infrastructure here.”

“The huge takeaway is that we "collectively" are all working in one direction and starting to see success in having the Cape & Islands with Internet Infrastructure to support our needs for the future from education to economic development, to healthcare, to public safety.  I can attest first hand as I was a Vice President at a Silicon Valley-based Internet Company and lived in Sandwich.  I experienced the challenges of managing offices in NY and London while having less than great was tough.”

No pricing has been released for the proposed pilot program at this time.

Not Anti-Comcast

Regarding the proposed OpenCape residential service as a Comcast alternative, Mr. Johnston adds, “ is important to mention that we are not anti-Comcast - in fact nothing would make me happier than to connect communities with our fiber and have Comcast be one of the providers that rides that fiber into people's homes.  The more choice we can give to people, the better off we will be.”

Show Your Support

Rep. Randy Hunt has requested that emails and letters be sent to his office in support of Budget Amendment #523, which provides $225,000 in funding for the OpenCape residential pilot program. 

Send an email or letter of support to Randy Hunt’s office. It can be as short as two sentences. Please CC your legislator (if it's not Randy Hunt) on that message so that they know this is important to you.

Rep. Hunt and his staff will bundle all the messages of support and hand-deliver them in waves to House Ways & Means before Budget Week, which starts on April 24th.

All responses should be emailed to Rep. Hunt’s 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

To look up your state representative, visit You can find their contact information at

If you have any questions, please call Rep. Randy Hunt’s office at 617-722-2800 x8743. 

Video:  OpenCape's Steve Johnston talk about expanding the network on Cape Cod Community College's ESTEAMERS program last summer. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on