As states across the nation begin to analyze and assess how Federal Infrastructure funding should be allocated throughout their communities, OpenCape took the opportunity to reach out to the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Ways and Means with written testimony prior to their meeting on September, 9, 2021.
While thanking all 53 Senate and House members on the committee for their ongoing support of broadband initiatives in Massachusetts and efforts on behalf of the Commonwealth and its citizens who experience the negative impact of the digital divide daily, we also presented what we feel are key salient points that should be considered when making decisions on how much funding should be allotted to Broadband Expansion and where it can be most effectively utilized.
OpenCape understands there will be numerous challenges and considerations as the ARPA and Infrastructure funding becomes available. However, as our region’s only 100% fiber network, and a successful recipient of 2009 Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) funding, we wanted to offer these legislators useful guidance for specific broadband policies that will be evaluated during upcoming infrastructure rule-making and allocations.
As the Joint Ways and Means committee begins their discussion and debate on the impact federal and state funds can have on communities in the Commonwealth, our suggestions focused on these three (3) recommendations:
We expressed our understanding that allocating funds and setting appropriate measures and thresholds is only one part of the process. To better illustrate how broadband dollars could best serve the residents of the Commonwealth, OpenCape went on to identify solutions as to how funds could be allocated and utilized immediately in our region. OpenCape’s service footprint (Barnstable, Bristol, Plymouth, Dukes and Nantucket counties) represents approximately 20% of the Commonwealth’s population, so if we worked with a statewide allocation of $400 million that would mean a 20% allocation directs $80 million to the region. This amount could be effectively implemented to provide significant connections that support economic development and improved quality of life for our residents:
We also reiterated that OpenCape, which originally built over 350 miles of fiber on the Cape, Islands and Southeastern, MA, reaching more than 50 towns, has since our founding has stayed strong and sustainable. We have grown our 100% fiber network to over 550 miles, serving municipalities, businesses, hospitals, schools, public safety facilities, and residents, which is a testament to the concept that fiscal stability and mission can co-exist and be a model for the future.
We hope that our outreach, combined with the support and advocacy of the communities we serve, will help move the Commonwealth in the right direction toward greater access to affordable Broadband for all residents.