June Infrastructure: Fiber in Falmouth & ADA Compliance

The Infrastructure Committee received updates on the release of $887,000 contained in Economic Development Bond Bill (H. 4569) for the installation of fiber in the towns of Barnstable, Falmouth and Provincetown. It is the committee’s understanding that if Economic Development funds are not released by June 30, funding goes away. To the best of our knowledge there has been no movement. The Tech Council has urged members to send emails of support.

There has been increased interest in and progress toward installation of fiber in Falmouth, including articles in the Falmouth Enterprise. A public meeting was held on June 4 at the Falmouth Library, televised by Falmouth TV. Selectmen, town boards, people who had responded to Open Cape initiative, and the general public were invited to attend. More information is at falmouthnet.org

Following the meeting, the Falmouth EDIC voted to fund a feasibility study. The Falmouth committee is now working with the Executive Director of the EDIC and has called for proposals. Their goal is to build on what Open Cape has done connecting to key institutions and go the last mile, reaching over 20,000 units. Among other things, the feasibility study will indicate whether they are looking at fiber or broadband to the home.

Falmouth is working on building populace support and will go to town meeting once they have proposals and cost analyses to present. They are interested in getting young people involved, acknowledging that there is a lot of education that needs to be done so the community understands the value of it. Many think they are fine with DSL, but indicate that they’d go with something that costs less. A representative from Open Cape offered help with the education piece, as they are having the same conversations with other municipalities.

Infrastructure Committee members added that it’s not just about getting the technology in place. Residents and small business owners need to see the value so they take advantage of it when it becomes available. If people don’t subscribe, it doesn’t work.

The education piece includes showing people what the possibilities are, expanding people’s perception of what broadband is and showing the potential. For instance, kids would not have to go to the library for wifi access to do their homework, and seniors could age in place.

As Falmouth moves forward, and residents comprehend the benefits, it creates a model for other towns. If there is an opportunity for the Tech Council to be helpful, the Infrastructure Committee can recommend it to the Board.

Website Accessibility
The Infrastructure Committee is aware of local businesses on Cape Cod who have been sued for websites that are not ADA accessible. Varied defenses have been tried unsuccessfully. The Technology Council has recommendations and helpful links on its website. Across the country, a broad range of companies and institutions being sued, including non-profits. If you’re providing goods or services, you need to be compliant.

The Tech Council and the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce suggest:

  • If you are the target of a suit, check with your insurer to see if you’re covered.
  • Get compliant as quickly as possible. This reduces liability; if you remedy the violation, there is no case or controversy and Federal Courts do not have jurisdiction.
  • There should be a page on websites, outlining ADA compliance measures. This statement doesn’t guarantee that you don’t get sued, but it may help.
  • Keep in mind that you may still get sued if a third party provider on the website is not compliant.

Furthermore, if you are not compliant, you are losing customers unable to access your information.

Members of the Council attended the Regional Economic Development Planning Council Engagement Session hosted by MA Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy. Topics covered include broadband funding and bridge replacement. Attendees said the underlying importance of fiber utility was a common thread in many discussions.

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