Vermont's House of Representatives this week passed a bill funding small and startup high-speed broadband providers to bring services to many unconnected rural residents or the underserved populace, at least some of whom still connect via modems from the age of "You've Got Mail."
"Some of them, they're on dial up; I mean they're literally still on dial up. So, you know, can you imagine?" Rep. Laura Sibilia, (I-West Dover), told WCAX. Some constituents use their copper phone lines for Internet connections, she said. "The last mile is becoming more and more vulnerable. They're more and more reliant on these telephone lines," Sibilia added.
Government at Work: Constructing Connections
Inside the state government's building, legislators are working hard to encourage local and startup operators to deliver broadband services to rural residents of Vermont. (Image Source: Wikipedia)
The legislation will help bring broadband Internet to about 17,000 Vermont residents who lack basic Internet access outside dial-up, the AP reported. But the state is home to about 50,000 other individuals whose online connection does not meet the Federal Communications Commission's standard of broadband (25 Mbps up/10 Mbps down), said Vermont Public Radio.
Under the Broadband Expansion Bill, municipalities, utilities, startups and local operators can apply for $1.5 million in grants and low-interest loans, available in fiscal-year 2020. The bill, which passed on a vote of 139-2, now faces a Senate vote.
"Access to high-speed broadband service is a fundamental requirement for growing our rural economy," said Energy and Technology Committee Chair, Rep. Tim Briglin (D-Thetford). "If we are serious about creating a Vermont that works for everyone, we must empower communities with the tools they need to solve deficiencies in broadband connectivity."
Funds will be split across three areas of need, added House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero), reported VermontBiz. The Broadband Innovation Grant Program, Connectivity Initiative grants and more funding for the Department of Public Service are intended to bring Internet connectivity to unserved Vermonters, she said. In the past, for example, the public-service agency gave ECFiber $72,500 to bring fiber-based service to 31 homes and businesses; Consolidated Communications received $175,000 to expand broadband to 162 residential and SMB customers, and Comcast received $300,000 to deliver broadband cable to 114 new thresholds.
Other financing includes more than $3.5 million in federal grants for Vermont's Broadband Initiative through the Vermont Center for Geographic Information; more than $45 million (accounting for 1.3% of total federal infrastructure grants) toward broadband infrastructure projects in the state, and improvement in wired connection of at least 10mbps has improved from 89.4% to 97.9% of Vermonters since 2011, according to BroadbandNow.
In fact, Vermont is the 29th most-connected state, BroadbandNow reports, basing its statistics on data provided by the FCC, NTIA and multiple vendor research reports from 2017. This, again, underscores the challenge of determining where funding should go since there is no singular, all-inclusive and verifiable national broadband map.
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In this insightful Light Reading radio show, Kurt Raaflaub, Head of Strategic Solutions Marketing, will outline the key service provider challenges, deployment considerations, next-gen Gigabit technologies, and service models to win market share in the rapidly growing MDU market.
Tuesday, May 21, 2019 11:00 a.m. New York / 4:00 p.m London
Win MDUs: Playing With Loaded 9-Sided Dice (archive available soon)
The MDU market continues to face fierce competition among service providers due to tech-savvy residents (i.e., millennials), demand from building owners and management companies, plus the favorable economics of bulk contracts. However, no MDUs are the same, so service providers must use multiple technologies and inconsistent deployment models, increasing operational complexity and rollout costs.
The MDU market itself is evolving as residents adopt smart-home technologies, generating rising demand for smart apartments with built-in connected thermostats, keyless entryways and doors, and video doorbells. This evolution presents both new challenges and opportunities. In other words, service providers must consider innovative service-delivery strategies to compete and win.
In this Broadband World News and ADTRAN webinar, Kurt Raaflaub, Head of Strategic Solutions Marketing, will highlight emerging MDU broadband Internet trends and challenges. In addition, Kurt will outline the next-generation service creation and delivery platform, built on open standards, that allows service providers to connect millions of underserved MDUs, enables creation of user-driven services, and reduces operational complexity and costs.
Plus, special guest, Alice Lawson, Broadband and Cable Program Manager for the City of Seattle, will discuss Seattle’s B4B-Build For Broadband initiative that addresses best practices in planning for MDU telecommunication infrastructure.