Big news: CVFiber has begun construction on our 1,200-mile fiber network! We’ll begin offering service to our first customers this spring. 2023 is off to a good start, thanks to our recent mild weather. We’re planning to keep the work going continuously throughout the year. This is the time when all the dreams, the planning, and all the hard work start to become reality!
Here are the headlines:
- Network construction began in December.
- We’re preparing for a very active 2023 construction season.
- You can now sign up to be notified when CVFiber reaches you.
- A federal map of Internet availability is badly inaccurate in Vermont. We’re asking you to check your address and report errors.
- In December, the Governing Board adopted a budget for 2023.
- As our operations grow, we’re seeking volunteers to join us in the work.
And now, the details.
Construction is Underway!
Last month, CVFiber began construction of our 1,200-mile, $60 million fiber network. The work is beginning in Calais, one of the most underserved communities in CVFiber’s district. As of January 5, more than 15,600 feet of strand had been strung by Eustis Cable Enterprises, a contractor for CVFiber. We’re aiming to connect our first subscribers by this spring.
The initial work will include parts of Calais, Worcester, Woodbury, and East Montpelier. Using additional construction contractors in 2023, it is anticipated that construction will proceed on the eastern side of the district in the direction of Cabot, Marshfield, and Plainfield proceeding as far as the poles are ready, and materials and funds are available; on the western side of the district another contractor will proceed in the direction of Worcester, Middlesex, and Moretown, subject to the same conditions. Our website includes a planning atlas which outlines the planned sequence of construction.
We formally marked this milestone with a press conference on December 21 at the Calais Town Hall, which featured state and local officials and CVFiber leadership. “I can’t tell you how many constituents have been in contact with me about the lack of high-speed Internet,” said Rep. Avram Patt of Worcester, a member of the House Energy & Technology Committee (and former executive director of Washington Electric Coop).
Christine Hallquist, chair of the Vermont Community Broadband Board, compared rural broadband’s transformative impact to rural electrification in the mid-20th Century. “We’re focused on maximizing the social benefits of broadband,” Hallquist said. “This is going to be a story our children’s children will tell.”
Preparing for a Full Year of Construction in 2023
Even as construction is underway, we’re planning for a full 2023 construction season. This includes the make-ready process, design approval, building a big enough bank of materials so construction can continue uninterrupted, and finalizing agreements with additional construction firms.
We have already ordered enough materials for 400 miles of network. Much of that material is in hand, but some deliveries have been delayed because of high demand and supply chain issues. The Governing Board has approved increasing the spending limit for materials and warehousing from $10 million to $14 million.* The additional funds will buy materials for another 200 miles of network. Much of our initial orders have been fulfilled, but some have been delayed because of high demand and supply chain issues. We’re planning ahead to support a smooth, continuous construction process.
Part of that $4 million increase in the spending limit will pay for additional warehouse space. We’ve received so many shipments that our current space is maxed out. Fortunately, some adjoining space is available for rent.
Sign Up to Be Notified When CVFiber Service Reaches You
We’ve made a bunch of changes to our website. The most important allows you to pre-register for CVFiber service. Just go to our homepage and type in your street address and email address. You’ll be notified by email as soon as our high-speed service is available, and our customer service team will contact you to schedule installation.
A Faulty FCC Map Could Cost Vermont Millions
The Federal Communications Commission has published a National Broadband Map to help guide efforts to bring broadband to underserved areas of the country. Unfortunately, the map is badly flawed in Vermont. It vastly overstates the number of addresses with Internet service, and many addresses don’t even appear on the map. The federal government will distribute a total of $37.1 billion to states based on the number of unserved locations; an accurate count is necessary to ensure that Vermont gets its fair share.
“As a small rural state, Vermont really needs the FCC’s maps to show the reality of the internet we know and live with, not a desk-top picture based on best-guess data,” said Public Service Commissioner June Tierney. “Vermont needs to maximize its share of those federal dollars, so this is an ‘all hands on deck’ call to our citizens to take a moment to check their address on the internet coverage map, and to let the FCC know if their information is wrong.”
Time is running short to do your part! The FCC will accept input until Friday, January 13. It’s easy to do. Visit the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection webpage and type in your address. If you find that your address is not listed, or the listed information about Internet availability is wrong, please submit corrections as described on the FCC webpage.
And again, please do so by this Friday!
2023 Budget Adopted
At its December meeting, the CVFiber Governing Board unanimously adopted a budget for 2023. Total expenditures are set at $25.4 million; $22 million of that will be spent on preconstruction and construction, plus nearly $3 million for operating the network. Virtually all our 2023 income is from state and local grants, $25.2 million in all, plus less than $500,000 in subscriber fees. Income from fees will grow as we make progress on network construction. (The budget is posted on our website.)
A glance at past budgets shows how far CVFiber has come from a handful of volunteers to an established organization ready to bring fast Internet to central Vermont. Total budgeted expenditures, 2019 through 2023:
- 2019: $305,760
- 2020: $623,360
- 2021: $2,234,100
- 2022: $14,736,660
- 2023: $25,436,800
Call for Volunteers
As CVFiber enters full-scale construction, everyone’s workload is increasing. We’re seeking volunteers to serve on our committees: Communications, Finance & Audit, Planning & Development, and Policy. You can find descriptions of each committee on our website. People with any skills and experience are welcome; we are particularly seeking volunteers who have network operations experience. Please join us! When CVFiber’s network is complete, you’ll be able to say you played a part in making it happen!
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 21 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 representing your community on the Board.
You can 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.