Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
As Chappaquiddick residents we have recently been sent a five page document entitled “Appeal to the Chappy Community” which asks that we support Comcast’s build-out of infrastructure for Chappaquiddick’s proposed high speed internet service. We are being asked to endorse the expenditure personally and through our taxes to subsidize Comcast’s costs for equipment that they will own when completed.
The authors of the document, Jonathan Cobb, Bob O’Rourke, Dennis Goldin and Woody Filey have done a great deal of work putting together a summary of the details surrounding the issues of providing media and internet service for Chappaquiddick and we thank them for all of the time, energy and effort that they have devoted to this important issue.
As Chappaquiddick residents we too are concerned that we stay up to date with the times, particularly with respect to high speed connections in times of crisis, as well as for business and education.
However, we do not like to be held hostage by Comcast any more than we like to be asked to pay amounts far greater than others on the Vineyard, specifically, and nationally. Philosophically, we believe that Comcast should be forced to take the rough with the smooth and provide evenly-priced service to all. We certainly would not accept uneven pricing from other service providers in industries where little or no competition exists. We do not pay a premium for electricity from ComElectric, or telephone service from Verizon.
We are not in favor of supporting a system where we are held hostage by a nationwide business interest with no local ties or involvement beyond making a quick and easy profit. We have a perfectly good internet provider in Chappy WISP, certainly not the speed or bandwidth that a national carrier can offer, but we are dealing with somebody local who is on-Island year round, runs and maintains webcams and attends to our needs on a personal and ongoing basis. Bob Fynbo is part of our community. He has our support and we think we should all be helping him as he builds and improves his business. We suspect that over the next few years technological improvements and investment will result in Chappy WISP being able to upgrade its service. If we are to subsidize Comcast’s investment in infrastructure, not to mention Edgartown’s willingness to devote $131,000 (an indirect subsidy by us as taxpayers) to Comcast’s coffers, shouldn’t we be willing to help build a locally owned business in the same manner? We suspect that with that kind of an infusion of funds Chappy WISP could greatly upgrade its service.
In short, we live on an island off an island, and most of us are on Chappaquiddick because it is different and not “normal.” Many things are challenging about living on Chappy — no gas station, no stores, no school, no library and just possibly that is part of the reason we are all here. This is not mainstream suburban America. Let’s keep it that way.
We can live with Chappy WISP, we can stay local and we can support our neighborhood businesses as they support us on a personal basis as only locals can. We have no doubt that Comcast would not come out in the middle of the night when their service goes down. We also have no doubt that our neighbor Bob Fynbo of Chappy WISP would come out.
We do not support some of our neighbors on Chappy who are endorsing efforts to eliminate locally-owned business in favor of big business.
Michael Ball and Penelope Dixon, Chappaquiddick