When Gigi Sohn, executive director of the American Association of Public Broadband (AAPB), visits Cape Cod next week, it will include a meeting with the Cape Cod Technology Council at CapeSpace.
“With the critical importance of broadband to our communities and our lives, we are so excited to talk with and learn from one of the world’s foremost experts on the technology,” said Tech Council Executive Director Steve Smith. “She’s been such a strong advocate for increasing access to equity to broadband. We’re grateful to have someone of her stature visit us at a time when the topic is at the forefront of so many conversations related to the expansion and investment of the technology.”
Ms. Sohn will spend three days on Cape Cod and Southeastern Massachusetts, including a meeting with the Tech Council at CapeSpace on Tuesday morning on February 13.
While that session is private, there will be several chances for the public to connect with Sohn who will deliver a keynote at a Falmouth Broadband Forum for town leaders and residents on Tuesday, February 13, at 7 pm at the Falmouth Historical Society on Palmer Avenue. The event is free of charge and the public and the media are encouraged to attend.
She will also appear before the Falmouth Select Board on Monday, February 12 at 6:30 pm at Falmouth Town Hall.
Sohn’s visit will present the national context for Falmouth’s initiative to build a town-wide fiber-optic Internet access network. Ms. Sohn’s speech at the Falmouth Broadband Forum on February 13th will be followed by a round table with Falmouth town government and Falmouth Broadband Municipal Light Plant (MLP) officials. There will also be a Q&A with the public invited to pose questions to Sohn.
Sohn’s multi-decade career in Washington, D.C., has focused on the democratizing uses of technology. She served as Counselor to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, 2013-2016. In 2021, she was the Biden Administration’s first choice for fifth (tie-breaking) FCC Commissioner, but her nomination was blocked in the US Senate.
In Sohn’s current position with the AAPB, she advocates at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure that public broadband projects will flourish.
The national context for Falmouth’s network project includes some 450 operating US municipal networks, with several dozen more, including Falmouth’s project and several others in southeastern Massachusetts, in pre-construction planning.
“Community-based broadband networks have transformed the Massachusetts Berkshires from sleepy hamlets to vibrant centers of economic opportunity, education, and culture,” Sohn said. “Now we have the chance to extend the advantages of locally controlled networks to the rest of Massachusetts.”
Sohn’s visit is sponsored by FalmouthNet, a nonprofit which developed the idea of a fiber optic internet access network for all of Falmouth. FalmouthNet inspired the Falmouth Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC) to fund a 2020 feasibility study. Then it obtained a state grant to execute a high-level design that produced a
blueprint for building the network.
It sponsored the proposal for Falmouth Town Meeting to create a Falmouth Broadband Municipal Light Plant (MLP) to oversee the network. Now FalmouthNet is sponsoring Sohn’s visit to continue advocacy for Falmouth’s network.
Sohn’s schedule for her entire visit to Southeastern Massachusetts includes the following events:
- February 12, 6:30 PM — Gigi Sohn will brief the Falmouth Select Board at Falmouth Town Hall
- February 13, 9-10 AM — Sohn will address the Cape Cod Technology Council at CapeSpace in Hyannis (invitation only: email@example.com)
- February 13, 11 AM-3 PM — Sohn visits OpenCape (invitation only)
- February 13, 7 PM — Falmouth Broadband Forum at the Falmouth Historical Society
- February 14, 10-11:30 AM — Sohn meets with members of the Massachusetts Broadband Coalition at the Fairhaven Town Hall (MBC members only)