CVFiber Update – September, 2020

There’s been an avalanche of news lately swirling around the challenge of building faster internet connections in rural areas. The state has been handing out large grants. Many have gone to private, for-profit “incumbent” telecommunications companies to build out their networks in limited areas where internet connections are slow. Vermont’s congressional representative, Peter Welch, hosted an online meeting and said CUDs’ existence is “an extremely promising development.” A commentary piece in VTDigger.org, “Where’s the leadership on affordable broadband for everyone?” bemoaned the inequitable distribution of high-speed internet across the state. CNN reported venture capitalists were “making big bets on broadband,” investing billions of dollars nationally.

For us at CVFiber, we continue our search for the money that’s needed to build fast internet in every Central Vermont town. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s been happening with us.

  • CVFiber hires a Project Manager consultant, Tim Shea, to help plan future growth and execute on fundraising and planning through the end of the year. An important piece of his work is identifying current Internet service providers who may be interested in running the system we build.
  • The Vermont Department of Public Service did not fund CVFiber proposal to build fixed wireless internet connections for homes in “underserved” areas of Central Vermont. The feedback was that the areas we hoped to serve lacked enough homes without adequate service and the cost of connecting each of the homes was too high. Press release on grant awards.
  • CVFiber focus remains on a “Phase 1” project fiber build-out along routes identified in feasibility study. We anticipate state funds that will enable us to do a pole survey to help us chart a route; the information would go to an engineering firm to begin designing a system.
  • Washington Electric Coop Board is considering stringing fiber optic cable on its electric poles. Working with WEC to build a fiber optic network is something CVFiber has been supporting. It seems a natural partnership—we share operation areas, and we believe “fiber to the premises” is the best solution for high-speed connections in our rural towns.

A word of caution from Wales via the BBC, that when you have broadband you might still not have broadband all the time. The BBC reported last week that an old TV owned by a villager in Aberhosan, Powys was found to be the reason the village’s broadband shut down every morning at 7 a.m. The daily outage persisted for 18 months until technicians discovered the problem: When the TV set was turned on, it emitted a “single high-level impulse noise,” creating electrical interference in other devices. The owner promised never to use the set again. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-54239180