In legislation finalized by the House and Senate this week, Rep. Dylan Fernandes was able to negotiate funding for efforts to build a community-based fiber-optic network. November 7th, 2022 - BOSTON - This Thursday, a compromise economic development package passed by both the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate contained a $100,000 amendment to support FalmouthNet’s goal to build a town-wide, community-based fiber-optic network. This capital derives from federal American Rescue Plan Act and Fiscal Year 2022 surplus funds. “High speed internet is essential for modern life and should be treated like a public utility,” said Rep. Fernandes. “I’m proud to have negotiated for funding that will help bring affordable, accessible internet to all Falmouth residents.” Current internet service is spotty and unreliable for most Falmouth residents, although some larger businesses and government entities are already served by OpenCape’s fiber system. Due to the fiber optic foundation that already exists, a feasibility study conducted by FalmouthNet in 2020 found that bringing a fiber optic network to all Falmouth residents is a viable solution. After completing an engineering design study thanks to an amendment filed to the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, this further funding secured by Rep. Fernandes will allow FalmouthNet to hire professional support and cover research expenses before they begin construction. Courtney Bird, President of FalmouthNet, said, “This appropriation is spectacular and timely! Thank you, Dylan! The big question facing the town and FalmouthNet was how to fund the associated start-up costs. Town Meeting approved the creation of a Municipal Light Plant (MLP) to build and operate a fiber optic broadband network and a 5-person board to run it. This appropriation is the answer! It will enable the board to develop an operating model, a viable business plan and the options to fund it. Once the construction phase begins down the road, the board’s administrative costs will be funded as part of the operating model.” Now that the legislation has passed both the House and the Senate, it awaits the Governor’s signature for final approval.