Vermont edges closer to broadband goal


Vermont is 12,500 locations closer to meeting its statewide broadband expansion goals. Speaking at the end of last week, Vermont Governor Schumlin outlined the progress of the state’s broadband expansion plan noting that since 2010, broadband access has been expanded to over 250,000 locations. The state is working toward 100% high speed connectivity by the end of the year.

Right now, Vermont ranks fourth in the nation for the overall speed of its broadband connection. This too, has improved steadily since 2010 – from 5.5mbps to 9mbps. Connect Vermont Chief Karen Marshall, says the remaining locations and speed lags are primarily in areas where geography presents some challenges. Vermont has would-be subscribers in rural and mountainous parts of the state that will require some creativity in order to connect. Marshall said there are about 500 locations, largely in remote areas of the state, that remain a challenge to connect.

In addition, some areas of Vermont are already moving toward a new goal – upgrading from high-speed service to higher-speed, next-generation internet options. According to Marshall, within the telecommunications-only sector, $248 million of the currently planned $373 million has been spent, with 2100 of 3500 fiber miles constructed, more than 40 new cell sites built, and more than 83 percent of connections at an average speed greater than 4 mbps.

“At the beginning of this mission, we had a stated goal of creating a marriage between our smart grid, fixed and mobile telecommunications infrastructure, building fiber deeper into communities and expanding both broadband and cellular service,” Marshall said. “ In the past two years, more than $400 million of an aggregate $564 million for all of these endeavors has been deployed in Vermont, making Vermont one of the most connected places on the planet- by number and speed of connection.

“We are achieving what most states in the country can’t even begin to envision- an integrated, collocated and ubiquitous telecommunications infrastructure that serves multiple purposes,” Marshall said. “These milestones have been achieved by our telecommunications carriers and utilities in partnership with the VTA, the Administration, federal agencies, the Department of Public Service, Public Service Board, and local communities. We are creating both connections and jobs in this sector, and we look forward to meeting our end of 2013 milestones.”