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Improving Internet Availability, Accessibility, and Affordability on Cape Cod  

Access to fast, reliable internet service has long been recognized as necessary to work, learn, conduct business, and engage in society—and, therefore, vital to supporting vibrant communities. Individuals, families, and organizations across Cape Cod increasingly rely on high-quality, consistent, and affordable internet access to fully participate in our society, democracy, and economy.  

The Cape Cod Commission is leading efforts to improve internet availability, accessibility, and affordability on Cape Cod, through an assessment of the region’s existing network and by providing municipal digital equity services.  

Assessing the Network 

Assessing the functionality of the region’s existing internet network and its potential for upgrades to modern broadband demands is essential for the region to thrive in a progressively digital world. The Cape Cod Commission contracted with CTC Technology and Energy and Rural Innovation Solutions to conduct a comprehensive study of commercial fixed and mobile broadband internet availability for residential, commercial, institutional, and municipal properties on Cape Cod and to make recommendations for network upgrades and/or expansion. 

The consultants are seeking to present fixed and mobile service availability data, identify gaps and deficiencies in these services, and discuss challenges with affordability, digital skills, literacy, and device access. The study will also describe significant new developments regarding the potential for fiber-to-the-premises deployments in some Cape Cod towns in the near term. Key initial findings include: 

  • Availability: Initial findings show that most residents and businesses on Cape Cod have no choice of provider. Speed tests conducted region-wide show significant seasonal degradation in fixed and mobile broadband service. Substantial numbers of respondents to a residential survey expressed concern about the speed and quality of available cable broadband service and problems with mobile voice and data service. 
  • Affordability: Cape Cod exceeds state and nationwide averages of home internet subscription rates, but low-income households experience more significant gaps. Affordable connectivity program adoption rates among eligible households were lower than state and national averages, indicating the need for new or expanded programs to encourage and facilitate enrollment in subsidy or low-cost programs. 
  • Accessibility: Most survey respondents said they have the skills required to perform basic tasks on the internet, but lower-income households face bigger gaps. Some respondents said they would attend classes if available. Census survey data show that 85.6 percent of households in Barnstable County own a desktop or a laptop; the survey reported higher percentages of ownership, but low-income households face challenges in affording devices. 

Municipal Digital Equity Planning

The Cape Cod Commission is currently working with the towns of Bourne, Sandwich, and Orleans to create municipal digital equity plans. Digital equity efforts seek to ensure everyone has the same access and opportunities to the information technology needed for full participation in society, democracy, and the economy. The focus is on bridging the affordability of internet service and devices, building skills to use programs and equipment, increasing trust, and overcoming language or other barriers that keep individuals from fully participating. 

Work began in Bourne in the fall of 2023, with a community workshop on November 13, 2023. On March 4, 2024, the Commission released a draft digital equity plan for a 21-day public comment period.  

In Sandwich, the community gathered for a workshop on December 6, 2023. Staff is currently drafting a plan to be released for public comment. 

In Orleans, work is just beginning. Community members are invited to attend a workshop on April 9, 2024 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at the Orleans Senior Center on Rock Harbor Road.  

Watch an interview with Commission Deputy Director Steven Tupper and Orleans Assistant Town Planner Mike Solitro about the digital equity planning process in Orleans: 

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To learn more about the Commission’s broadband initiatives, please visit

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