FALMOUTH – It took a little longer than first planned, but Open Cape’s fiber optic high speed internet cable is coming soon to businesses on Main Street.
“I will have the backbone built in two to three weeks,” said Steve Johnston, executive director of Open Cape. It will be finished by the end of October. The first connections will be made as soon as the backbone is built, he said.
OpenCape is a 501c3 nonprofit that, with money from government grants, has strung almost 550 miles of fiber optic cable through more than 40 towns in Southeastern Massachusetts, said Johnston. Having connected many of the anchor institutions on the Cape, Open Cape is looking to expand its reach.
“We’re thrilled,” said Michael Kasparian, President and CEO of the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce.
The wiring of Main Street was supposed to start in June and be finished by August, but, Kasparian said that it took time dealing with “the fine print in putting the deal together. The financial package.”
Essentially, said Johnston, the delay involved a loan from Mass Development that was earmarked for the Falmouth Economic Development Corporation, but made more sense, economically to go directly to Open Cape.
“It’s disappointing to us,” said Johnston. “The goal was to get it up and running for the summer. The financing part of it just took a little bit longer.”
But, he said, “We’re doing the pre-engineering work right now.”
Because Main Street’s wiring is now underground, the fiber optic cable will be strung on utility poles behind the buildings on both sides of Main Street, and the connections will go into the buildings from there, Johnston explained.
And to jumpstart the process, part of the loan includes money to allow the first 62 businesses that sign up to get connected for free. The normal connection cost for someone near the cable will be $500 to $800, said Johnston.
The signup started on September 19. Thirty two businesses have already signed up, said Johnston.
The first to sign up was the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce. “We wanted to be number one,” said Kasparian. Internet speed, he said, “affects our business.”
The service coming to Main Street, said Johnston, will be a “shared gig of service. It will be shared between between 100 businesses on Main Street. And it will be substantially better internet than they ever had in their life.”
The cost, said Johnston, will be $117 a month. He said that $80 will go to Open Cape for service, $27 goes to service loan – which will be paid off in less than three years – and $10 a month from each bill will go to replenish the fund allowing for free hookups.
The loan part of the bill should disappear in three years when it is paid off, he said.
The idea is to continue to expand the service in the town.
That goal of wiring the entire town with fiber optic cable would require “a big gargantuan effort,” said Kasparian. “It’s going to require the collaboration of a lot of groups.”
But Kasparian believes it is worth it “from a big picture perspective.” Allowing people to work from home on Cape Cod and be wired in with fiber optic cable ”could boost the overall economy.”
It starts soon on Main Street.
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