OpenCape, a community-focused partnership, means Main Street Falmouth businesses can count on being up and running all year long.
Photographs by Dan Cutrona
Two years ago, George Sykes was feeling frustrated. At his busy bicycle shop on Falmouth’s Palmer Avenue it was the hectic summer season and his staff members were having their usual internet issues. “With our previous provider, we suffered numerous outages,” says Sykes, who has owned Corner Cycle for more than 35 years.” We couldn’t get data between locations or to our online store. We couldn’t process credit cards. That basically crippled our business.”
So when Sykes heard that a local not-for-profit fiber company would be offering affordable high-speed internet connections in downtown Falmouth, he was ready. “I think I must have been the first person to say yes,” says Sykes. “Once I knew that OpenCape was going to offer network connections here, I was in!”
Headquartered in Barnstable Village, the OpenCape Corporation owns and operates the region’s only 100-percent fiber optic network. Originally built with funding from both the Commonwealth and the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), the OpenCape network now serves hundreds of local governments, businesses, schools, community organizations, and residents of Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard.
“The Falmouth Gigabit Project was initially a reaction to an immediate and pressing problem for the small businesses on Main Street,” says OpenCape CEO Steve Johnston, referring to the broadband initiative launched through a partnership with the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce and the Falmouth EDIC. Utilizing specific hardware known as a Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON), OpenCape has connected more than fifty small businesses in downtown Falmouth to a shared Gigabit of ultra high-speed and consistently reliable internet, and the project continues to expand to more customers.
"We don’t have to worry about the Internet anymore, and that is a good thing."
— Sara Hines, Eight Cousins Books
In photo: Reilly, Staff Member, Eight Cousins Books
“High speed internet service provided at a competitive price has enabled dozens of Main Street businesses to run more efficiently,” says Falmouth Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Michael Kasparian. “By leveraging technology and eliminating service interruptions, business owners can focus more on providing better personal service to their customers.”
The newly connected companies on Main Street agree. “We don’t have to worry about the Internet anymore, and that is a good thing.” says Sara Hines, co-owner of Eight Cousins Books. Hines and her two business partners were enthusiastic about community-focused solutions to retail challenges, and they saw that the town of Falmouth and OpenCape were putting a lot into the project.
"Reliable, fast, reasonably priced internet is hard to beat."
— Greg Horning, Aquatic Brewing
Greg Horning, one of the owners of the newly opened Aquatic Brewing echoed her sentiments. “OpenCape is very competitive in price and we like supporting a local business to build community.” Aquatic operates a taproom at the far end of Main Street, where it runs its point of sale system through the internet and offers WiFi to customers. “Reliable, fast, reasonably priced internet is hard to beat.”
“Our goal is to offer an affordable choice in robust internet services across our region,” says Johnston. “We are talking to several other communities right now that are interested in replicating what Falmouth is doing on the Cape.” OpenCape has already installed the same GPON hardware in Hyannis, for example, where it also launched its first residential fiber pilot program last year in a multi-use building on Main Street, developed by CapeBuilt Companies. The not-for-profit is also currently connecting fiber to CapeBuilt’s newest project—the nearby Sea Captains Row residences.
"You are saving money and the product is better. It really is a no brainer!"
— Scott Ghelfi, Ghelfi’s Candies
“While we can and do offer commercial-level connections to residents that require that kind of dedicated symmetrical service, we also strongly support municipalities that are seeking town-run Fiber To The Home solutions,” says Johnston. “OpenCape is happy to work with customers to deliver whatever they need.”
For the shops, restaurants, and services on the bustling streets of downtown Falmouth that means fast, consistent, and reliable internet. Rory Maguire of Liam Maguire’s Irish Pub touts the “peace of mind” the new fiber broadband connection gives them, while Scott Ghelfi, owner of Ghelfi’s Candies, another recent OpenCape customer, recommends that any local business take a look at the costs and benefits. “Since we’ve changed over to OpenCape, it’s been great,” says Ghelfi. “You are saving money and the product is better. It really is a no brainer!”