We are about to start construction on our 1,200-mile fiber network. Every week, sometimes every day, more clearances are received, more contracts are signed, and more and more materials fill our warehouse space. We’re also doing the work needed to turn CVFiber from a behind-the-scenes planning operation to a public-facing service provider. There’s some exciting news in this update, so please read on!
Here are the headlines in this month’s update:
- We have released our subscription rates!
- On December 1, we will begin network construction!!
- Preparatory work is continuing in the next construction areas.
- Materials are arriving in plenty of time — with one crucial exception.
- We have signed contracts for supply chain services and inventory management.
And now, the details.
Subscription Rates Unveiled
After months of careful planning and financial review, CVFiber has established subscription rates for high-speed Internet service. Residential service will offer symmetrical upload and download speeds at the following rates:
- 100 Mbps at $79/month
- 500 Mbps at $99/month
- 1 Gbps at $129 /month
- 2 Gbps at $199/month
- VOIP phone service will cost an additional $29/month
Commercial enterprises will be able to get symmetrical speeds of 1, 2, 5, and 10 Gigabit. Commercial pricing has not yet been finalized. Additional details will be published on our website when available.
Rates were set as low as possible while ensuring financial stability for the network. Numerous factors were considered including projected pace of construction, rate of subscriber buy-in, network expenses, and borrowing costs. We are working on arrangements for those who cannot afford the full price. Cost should not be a barrier to high-speed broadband.
Construction Kickoff Approaching
We’ve just gotten word that construction will begin on December 1. This will be a milestone in the nearly four-year effort to plan and design a fiber network, survey every utility pole, make improvements when necessary, obtain clearances and permits, acquire materials, and hire contractors to do the actual work.
Most of the initial buildout will be in Calais, plus parts of East Montpelier, Woodbury, and Worcester. The goal is to build as many miles of network before the onset of winter weather and begin connecting subscribers as soon as possible in 2023. Construction may slow down or even stop over the winter depending on weather, but the make ready process of replacing poles, trimming trees, moving power lines and equipment will continue so we’re ready to resume full-time building in the spring. Construction will continue throughout 2023 with a goal of building at least 400 miles, one-third of the total network, by the end of the year.
Construction progress depends on availability of materials and construction crews, make ready, and those pesky clearances and permits.
Update on Pole Inventory, Make Ready, and Marketing
The pole inventory, which has been going on since last year, is finally complete in areas that are to be constructed in the next year-plus. It’s been a long and difficult process that seemed to be forever on the verge of completion.
Make ready and detailed design are complete for the first two work areas. Four other designs are awaiting final approval by the Vermont Community Broadband Board.
Rideouts are ongoing with all three utilities in our district: Washington Electric Coop, Green Mountain Power, and Hardwick Electric. These are mutual excursions aimed at finalizing arrangements for us to use utility poles owned by these three power companies. Proceeding with the network is in all our interests, but every detail has to be worked out.
We’re holding regular meetings with Waitsfield & Champlain Valley Telecom, which will operate our network and interact with our subscribers. “Working with them has been fabulous,” said David Healy, chair of CVFiber’s Planning and Development Committee. WCVT has years of experience in its own service area, and that is proving invaluable in preparing our retail packages, connection arrangements, and 24/7 subscriber support.
Managing the Flow of Materials
“We’re getting a lot of materials in,” CVFiber Executive Director Jennille Smith noted recently. “We’re using space creatively and looking for more.” With so many items coming in, CVFiber has signed a one-year contract with Wild Blue Yonder for inventory management, shipping and receiving. Wild Blue had been working on a month-to-month basis.
Also, CVFiber has signed a contract with KGPCo for supply chain services. That simple phrase covers a lot of ground. KGPCo will be sourcing and procuring supplies, managing supplier relationships, keeping track of orders and their fulfillment, and manage transportation of supplies.
The materials are pouring in with one crucial exception. “Cabinets” are basically big metal boxes that house all the electronics needed to turn on and operate a section of network. We can’t connect anyone without cabinets. We ordered cabinets for our first three construction areas in July; we’re now told that we won’t get them until March. We are searching for alternate suppliers to prevent or minimize delays.
Connect With CVFiber
You can reach out to your representatives on the Governing Board, which includes one delegate and one or more alternate(s) from each of our 20 communities. A list of delegates and alternates can be found on our Governing Board page or you can contact your delegation through our Contact page. You may see vacancies for delegates and alternates. Contact your community’s Select Board or City Council if you are interested in joining a team that is bringing universal broadband to central Vermont.
You could also volunteer to serve on one of our committees: Communications, Finance & Audit, Planning & Development, and Policy. This is a community-run effort that relies on volunteers. The more people who are involved, the stronger we are.
We also send regular updates to everyone on our email list. If you’d like to add yourself to the list, you can use the “Subscribe to our Newsletter” option on the CVFiber homepage.