Island officials met with Dan Gallagher Monday, April 30 to hear an update on OpenCape, a project to bring broadband connectivity to Martha’s Vineyard, as part of a larger project that will connect all of Cape Cod.
Mr. Gallagher is the chief executive officer of OpenCape, a non-profit organization formed to manage construction of a state-of-the-art communications network for the Cape and Islands.
Under the terms of its $40 million grant funding, the company must bring the network to Chappaquiddick, identified as under served by traditional communications companies.
To accomplish that, the company has acquired a lease for space on a privately owned tower in Edgartown. It plans to establish a microwave link from the mainland to the Edgartown tower, and from there to the Dukes County Communications Center near the Martha’s Vineyard Airport.
Other companies, or towns, could use the network to provide high speed communications to schools, public safety facilities, and government buildings.
“We provide the highway, other companies provide the last mile,” Mr. Gallagher said.
The Monday meeting was organized by state Rep. Tim Madden, who attended the session.
He urged Island officials to nominate a representative to the OpenCape board of directors.
West Tisbury, Tisbury, Chilmark, and Dukes County sent representatives to the session. The group questioned some parts of the plan, including the microwave link.
“The real issue is how do we get fiber [optic cable] here,” Fred Lapiana, director of Tisbury’s Department of Public Works. “We don’t want to lose leverage with a half-baked scheme.”
“I don’t think what we’re doing is going to have any impact on leverage,” Mr. Gallagher said. “We’re going to build what we’re going to build, and fulfill our commitment.”
Edgartown officials said they were unaware of OpenCape’s specific plans and have not issued any permits to OpenCape.
“Edgartown doesn’t have to accept anything from me,” Mr. Gallagher said. “I will put it up there, if a last mile provider wants to come and offer last mile service, they can.”
Under the terms of the grant funding, the project must be complete and operating by January 31, 2013.
OpenCape is funded with $32 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly known as stimulus funds, and $8 million in matching funds from Massachusetts.