We’ve entered something of a seasonal pause in construction, so this month’s activity is devoted to the necessary stuff: Design and financial planning, ordering materials, preparing for the onset of full construction this spring, adding staff, and preparing to launch our marketing and subscription programs. What it may lack in excitement it more than makes up in necessity.
- Time is running short on a matching grant opportunity for member towns.
- Construction will begin at full speed as soon as Mud Season is over.
- Career opportunity: FREE training to become a fiber installer!
- We’ve started work on our first Optical Line Terminal.
- Lucas Stubbs is our new Operations Manager.
- We’ve narrowed the search for a Community Relations Manager.
- We’re looking for community volunteers to keep CVFiber humming.
And now the details!
Time Is Short for a Matching Grant Opportunity
There’s just a bit more than two months left on a matching opportunity for CVFiber’s member towns. Until May 31, the Vermont Community Broadband Board will match town commitments of their American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds up to $100,000. Where else can your town double its purchasing power on behalf of its residents?
Every dollar in matching funds we can get is one less dollar we’ll have to borrow, and debt financing is one of the biggest drivers of subscription costs.
Three towns — Calais, East Montpelier, and Middlesex— have met or exceeded the $100,000 limit in grants, so they’re maxed out on the match. Many other communities (Barre City, Barre Town, Berlin, Cabot, Duxbury, Marshfield, Montpelier, Moretown, Northfield, Orange, Plainfield, Roxbury, Washington, Waterbury, Williamstown, Woodbury and Worcester) have made grants of less than $100,000, so they still have room to double their purchasing power. If every town committed the maximum, it would mean a total of $4 million toward the buildout of central Vermont’s broadband network.
Remember, time is short! If you live in one of those towns, please contact your elected officials immediately and urge them to make or increase a commitment to community-owned broadband.
Construction Update and Prospects
The pace of construction was slowed by recent heavy snows, which continue to make progress very difficult. When all this white stuff melts, it could make for a treacherous Mud Season that would keep our heavy trucks off the unpaved roads.
So far, our crews have strung almost 14 miles of strand and more than four miles of fiber. The work has passed 81 addresses in Calais. We’re still working on the infrastructure needed to connect those locations to a network.
Those numbers will increase once we’re past Mud Season, when more construction crews will be added for an all-out effort with a goal of building at least 400 miles of our 1,200-mile network during 2023. Our first subscribers should go live in May.
Free Broadband Installer Apprenticeship Program
With network construction ramping up to full speed across Vermont, the need for skilled fiber optics installers will continue to grow, making it a promising opportunity for those seeking a new career. A free training course to become a maintenance technician, splicer, or installer is available from the Vermont Community Broadband Board, Vermont Department of Labor, and the Vermont State Colleges.
This apprenticeship program combines classroom learning and hands-on work. Employers are waiting to hire people who complete the course. These jobs pay a good wage to start and can lead to careers in information technology, smart grid, and engineering trades.
Optical Line Terminals: The Hubs of Our Network
One major component of the CVFiber system is a series of Optical Line Terminals (OLT). These cabinets contain the electronics to which your home or business will be connected to the Internet.
The first three cabinets will be in Middlesex, Calais, and Marshfield and work is beginning on each. Next steps are for the concrete pads to be poured, the cabinets with the electronics installed, the first cabinet lit, and the three connected to each other on the network backbone. Stay tuned!
Full-Time Operations Manager Coming on Board
Lucas Stubbs will become CVFiber’s second full-time employee on April 3. He was chosen from an impressive pool of candidates to be our first Operations Manager.
Stubbs is a Williamstown resident with over 20 years of technical and management experience in the telecom industry. He offers expertise in many areas including network design and implementation, inventory management, construction management, installation, troubleshooting and maintenance.
Stubbs’ position is critical to meet our construction goals for 2023 and will involve oversight and coordination of our construction and installation contractors, suppliers, and materials warehouse.
Welcome aboard, Lucas!
Hiring Process Underway for Community Relations Manager
We have received a dozen or more qualified resumes for the Community Relations Manager position. Resumes have been reviewed, interviews held, and background and reference checks conducted. We are aiming to bring somehone on board in April.
Think of the Community Relations Manager as the Operations Manager for the people side of CVFiber. It’s the same kind of coordination effort, this time with our Communications Committee and marketing and public relations partners. The CRM will engage with our communities and oversee and implement the CVFiber marketing campaign in areas under construction. The full job description is posted on the “Careers” page of our website.
Volunteers Needed for CVFiber Committees
Even as we expand our paid staff, CVFiber will always remain a community-based effort that relies on a lot of volunteer work. Volunteers serve on our Governing Board and Executive Committee, and make up the membership on our five committees: Communications, Finance & Audit, Planning, Development & Operations, and Policy.
You can find more information about our committees and the work they do on the “Governance” section of our website.
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 community’s 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.
We also send regular updates to everyone on our email list. If you’d like to add yourself to the list, you can sign up quickly and easily on the CVFiber homepage.