As CVFiber moves closer to the beginning of construction, a major funding boost is on the horizon that would provide a very healthy start on network buildout. We’re on track to begin construction and offer connectivity to some addresses in the CVFiber Community Network in a matter of months. We seem to say “this is an exciting moment in CVFiber’s development” every month, but it’s true! Our top stories:
- The Vermont Community Broadband Board is ready to award substantial construction grants.
- Member towns have a great opportunity to supercharge buildout in their communities.
- Construction will begin this year, and service at some addresses will begin this fall.
- The pole inventory is making good progress.
- The high-level design is nearly complete, and work will soon begin on the detailed design.
- A strong pool of candidates has applied for the Executive Director position.
Now, the details.
Broadband Board Prepares to Open the Floodgates
The Vermont Community Broadband Board will soon offer $300 million in construction grants to the state’s nine Communications Union Districts. The funds come from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and will be allocated based on road miles with unserved addresses in each CUD. In CVFiber’s case, 9.38% of our 1,200 miles of road have no service. Ray Pelletier, chair of CVFiber’s Finance Committee, estimates that CVFiber’s share of construction grants would amount to “$27 million over about three years, which would put us almost 60% of the way to full funding.” The cost of building the CVFiber network is estimated at $50 million.
CVFiber must apply for construction grants and gain approval, but we have every reason to believe we will get our full share. That would help us achieve our affordability goal. “We’ve always been keen on keeping subscription costs as low as possible,” said Jerry Diamantides, chair of CVFiber’s Governing Board. “Our goal as we balance funding sources is to lower the cost to subscribers as much as possible.”
VCBB Executive Director Christine Hallquist intends to maintain a strong pace. “Once we start construction, we need to keep going,” Hallquist told the state Senate Finance Committee at a January hearing. She told the committee that the Board’s goal is to get every unserved or underserved address connected to high-speed (100/100 Mbps) broadband within five years. Further, she said the Board hopes to enable the CUDs to offer rates below commercial carriers’ rates.
Matching Funds Opportunity for Member Towns
Your town has an opportunity to double the grant funding spent within its borders. CVFiber is seeking grants from ARPA relief funds received by towns and cities. The VCBB will match the first $1.5 million in town grant commitments in the CVFiber district. If your town acts quickly, your grant will have double the impact.
All such funds — town grants and matching funds — will be spent within the granting town’s borders. The commitment deadline is September 15, but the matching funds may run out long before then. Tell your local officials the time to act is now!
Construction On Track to Begin This Year
Things are looking good to begin buildout of CVFiber’s network during the coming construction season, perhaps as early as June. There is a lot of work to be done before the first shovel hits the dirt, as we’ll outline below.
The goal is to “get subscribers on board as quickly as possible,” Diamantides said. The first service should go live by this fall. The initial focus is connecting unserved and underserved addresses. “Underserved” means Internet connections of less than 25/3 Mbps.
Pole Inventory Moving Forward
Despite the difficulties posed by winter snows, CVFiber’s pole inventory is making good progress. Crews are at work in 11 member towns: Barre Town, Cabot, Duxbury, Marshfield, Northfield, Orange, Plainfield, Roxbury, Washington, Williamstown, and Woodbury.
The inventory includes poles on private property. Workers will attempt to contact you if they need to enter your property; they are wearing bright construction vests and their vehicles display CVFiber magnetic signs.
Design Process About to Enter Next Phase
CVFiber contractor Vantage Point is almost finished with the high-level design. It has had to overcome Covid-related issues that have slowed progress. The next step: Vantage Point’s design will be forwarded to the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, one of CVFiber’s management partners. NRTC will refine the high-level design and develop a detailed design, including lines to every home and business.
CVFiber Attracts Strong Candidate Pool for Executive Director Position
CVFiber has been soliciting applications for the newly created position of Executive Director, its first full-time position. “I’m impressed with the short list that’s being developed,” Diamantides observed. “The level of quality is very high.”
This week, the search committee will begin to winnow applications and create a short list. Those candidates will advance to the next stage of the process. The goal is to fill the position by April.
Questions? Get In Touch!
CVFiber is a nonprofit municipality and we welcome your input. You can post inquiries on our Contact page.
You can reach out to your representatives on the Governing Board, which includes one delegate and one alternate from each of our 21 communities. A list of delegates and alternates can be found on our Governing Board page or you can contact your delegation on our Contact page.