Weeks ago, I wrote about the lack of progress in bringing better internet service to the Outer Cape. One question that has been raised but never answered in these discussions about broadband is how many residents are actually served by Comcast, which has a virtual monopoly here, and how many are not.
The question matters because the Baker administration in Boston refuses to release funds authorized by the legislature to extend broadband service on the Cape. The reason, according to state Sen. Julian Cyr, is that the administration believes we are already well served by Comcast.
In January, a company spokesman told K.C. Myers that only about 50 households on all of Cape Cod lack access to Comcast service. We asked for the list; he refused to provide it.
We thought 50 sounded impossibly low. So, I asked readers four questions: Who provides your internet service? How do you rate the quality of that service on a scale of 1 to 5? Can you connect to Comcast? And where are you located?
Thirty-four people responded, many with extensive comments on their frustrations with poor service and few options. Here are a few conclusions one might draw from my admittedly limited survey project.
First, 21 of the 34 respondents are Comcast customers, and their ratings of the company were not bad but wildly disparate, ranging from 1 to 5. The average score was 3.6.
The other respondents connected via satellite, DSL, or cellular hotspot. They were not happy, giving their services an average score of 2.7.
Thirteen of the respondents — 38 percent — could not connect to Comcast. Many of them listed their neighbors who also were not served by the telecom giant. In all, the readers listed 59 different locations, from Race Point Road in Provincetown to Monument Road in Orleans, that are not served by Comcast at all. That company spokesman who said only 50 houses on the whole Cape are unserved hereby gets my telecon-artist award.
Penelope Jencks of Bound Brook Way in Wellfleet described how a Comcast sales rep falsely assured her she could be connected and then caused her Verizon account to be canceled, leaving her with no internet or phone service. Joan O’Brien of Wellfleet’s Lieutenant Island related how the company refused to lay cable unless 100 percent of the home owners on the island sign easements. Brett Stone, manager of network operations at Cape Air, said Comcast won’t connect his office unless he pays for a $300,000 fiber lateral.
“A robust internet connection is vital in today’s world, and providers need to serve the public,” wrote Sharon Dunn of Bound Brook Island in Wellfleet. It’s clear that hundreds if not thousands of Cape Cod residents lack that connection, and that Gov. Baker’s refusal to approve a simple remedy for this affliction is either ignorant or, more likely, corrupt.
Legislative and select board candidates: what say you about this?