OpenCape Residential Fiber Pilot a Window to Better Connectivity on Cape Cod

Earlier this month, OpenCape Corporation, a nonprofit fiber provider in southeastern Massachusetts, announced that it will pilot Fiber-to-the-Premises residential service at a new mixed-use development in Hyannis on Cape Cod. For the project, CapeBuilt Development is renovating a historic building to house apartments and businesses. Thanks to OpenCape’s connectivity, they will be first fully fiberized residential units on the Cape.

OpenCape hopes that the pilot project in Hyannis will serve as a model for towns in the region that are looking to invest in municipal broadband networks.

The Covid-19 pandemic emphasizes the importance of investing in quality connectivity for Cape Cod families to enable working and learning from home. “The only way that becomes truly possible is to ensure that they have access to robust, reliable and affordable Internet connectivity in their homes,” said OpenCape CEO Steven Johnston in the press release.

In response to the current public health crisis, OpenCape has also upgraded customers’ bandwidth and taken the Federal Communication Commission’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge to not disconnect customers affected by the pandemic or charge late fees. “It is something we feel fits within our mission, that we are supposed to be serving the communities in southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod,” Johnston told the Falmouth Enterprise.

Hyannis harbor

“Hip and Historic”

The location of OpenCape’s new pilot, 255 Main, is a restoration of the town’s historic Furman building, which once housed the Hyannis Board of Trade during the previous century. “It is incredibly fitting that 255 Main will be the very first fiber enabled residential units on Cape Cod,” Johnston explained in the release. “As we looked for ideal locations to pilot residential service, this location was an excellent fit based on our goals and objectives for the Hyannis downtown area.”

In partnership with developer CapeBuilt, the pilot project will connect all of the residences and businesses in 255 Main to OpenCape’s fully fiber broadband network. These will be the first fiber-enabled housing units on Cape Cod, according to OpenCape. Building residents will be able to subscribe to gigabit connectivity for less than $68 per month, which CapeBuilt is including in rent for the first year.

“We describe 255 Main as being at the Cape’s intersection of hip and historic,” said Rob Brennan, president of CapeBuilt, in the press release. “With the addition of OpenCape’s 100 percent fiber internet, residents at 255 Main will access the fastest internet on Cape Cod.”

Connecting the Cape

With the residential pilot in Hyannis, OpenCape hopes to inspire other communities in the region that are exploring municipal broadband networks. “Our goal is to pick a handful of projects like 255 Main to use as examples for towns who are considering building their own fiber networks and connecting them to the OpenCape Network,” Johnston shared in the release.

Falmouth is one of the Cape Cod towns getting closer to a community fiber network. Home to about 32,000 people, Falmouth already has municipal facilities and anchor institutions connected to a cost-saving fiber network operated by OpenCape, and the nonprofit is in the process of expanding to downtown businesses. Currently, the community is conducting a feasibility study, commissioned by Falmouth Economic Development and Industrial Corporation, to determine if the town should invest in a citywide fiber network. Early survey results are promising.

Learn more about OpenCape on episode 215 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.