Cape Cod’s ‘rural’ internet is inferior, fiber optic advocates say
Advocates for better Internet service in Cape Town believe the future lies in building their own local fiber optic networks, independent of private providers.
Part of their belief is that Boston and other densely populated areas have better service.
Courtney Bird, president and founder of FalmouthNet, a nonprofit that wants to create a city-run fiber optic network, says why Boston has better internet than Cape Town is a simple matter of economy.
Denser areas mean higher profitability, he said, which is why private companies like Comcast are more likely to invest in improved infrastructure in these areas, rather than in rural areas like Cape Town. Areas in and around Boston carry more fiber in their networks than Cape Town, he said. Bird and others believe this creates a better Internet.
“You don’t blame Comcast, they have to return a profit,” he said.
The lack of incentives to upgrade infrastructure leaves Cape Town underserved, he said. One of the biggest problems is that telecom companies have been able to lower the minimum definition of high-speed internet, he said. The FCC’s minimum requirement for high-speed Internet is 25 megabits per second download and 3 megabits per second upload speed, according to Verizon.com.
In fact, Verizon FiOS will not serve Cape Town due to a lack of economic incentive, Bird said.
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FalmouthNet board member David Isenberg, however, says the lack of incentive to invest in Cape Town’s internet infrastructure has less to do with density than with return on investment.
New York City, he said, sued Verizon FiOS over Verizon’s decision not to wire certain households in low-income neighborhoods.
The lack of competition in Cape Town also leads to less than robust internet service, said Steven Johnston, CEO of OpenCape, a non-profit organization seeking to expand fiber optic networks across Cape Town and the Islands and the South. -eastern Massachusetts.
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Cities have multiple competing internet providers, leading to better pricing for customers and greater incentive to upgrade infrastructure, he said. Isenberg echoed that sentiment, saying Comcast has a de facto monopoly on Cape Town, he’s not motivated to improve the network.
Through a spokesperson, Comcast said there was no difference between Cape Town’s infrastructure and Boston’s.
Much of the evidence that fiber advocates rely on is a feasibility study for Falmouth conducted by CCG Consulting in 2020, which found that broadband customers in Falmouth are experiencing outages and inconsistent speeds.
According to the study, Comcast advertises baseline download speeds in Falmouth as “up to 150 megabits per second”, however, 43% of Comcast customers had download speeds below 100 megabits per second and 23% had download speeds of less than 50 megabits per second. The study says this finding was surprising because most Comcast customers surveyed in other markets have speeds equal to or better than the speeds they subscribe to.
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The study also indicated that 78% of Comcast customers in Falmouth had download speeds below 15 megabits per second, although Comcast reported to the FCC that it could achieve download speeds of 25 megabits per second at Falmouth.
“Broadband in Falmouth is not as good as broadband in nearby town centers and surrounding suburbs,” the study said.
The study was carried out specifically for Falmouth, but argues that Falmouth’s broadband system is like the rest of Cape Town.
“One thing we learned is that all of Cape Town has almost the same broadband situation. Verizon has not built FiOS on Cape Town and all communities are served by a combination of Comcast and Verizon DSL,” the study states.
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Truro, a mostly rural community with a year-round population of around 2,000, has struggled with internet connectivity. Board chairman Robert Weinstein said that until two years ago many residents relied on satellite service, which he said was horrible. After nearly a decade of struggling with Comcast, Truro was able to get proper wiring, he said.
Weinstein does not blame Comcast, but the federal government.
The federal government, he said, allows internet companies to be treated as entertainment businesses rather than utilities, which means they don’t have to wire every city.
“In Internet terms, we are a Third World nation,” he said.
Curtis Hartman, a Truro resident, said at his former home on Long Nook Road he couldn’t get cable internet service. He moved to another part of town served by Comcast where he said the service was “adequate.”
Hartman said there have always been parts of town that Comcast refused to cable. However, since the internet is mandatory today, he believes internet companies should operate as a regulated utility, rather than just a business.
Comcast’s point of view
Marc Goodman, director of public relations for Comcast, said there was no difference between broadband systems for Comcast customers in Cape Town and those in Boston. He said Comcast had invested billions in its network, and the network design in Falmouth and Boston was identical.
Comcast has also invested thousands of miles of fiber in its network, including on Cape Cod, he said, and is working to offer customers multi-gigabit speeds over its existing infrastructure.
“Across Massachusetts and Cape Cod, Comcast has invested billions in our smart, fast, and reliable fiber-rich network to deliver residential broadband speeds of up to 1.2 gigabits per second and business speeds of up to 100 gigabits. per second for our customers. We will continue to invest in our network, technology and local workforce to provide residents and businesses across Cape Town with unbeatable internet with the best connection, advanced cybersecurity, faster speeds and the best technology available. said Goodman.
In addition, Goodman hopes that Xfinity customers in Cape Town who have problems deal directly with Xfinity employees, for example by visiting their stores in Falmouth or Hyannis or talking to customer service by phone or online.