On January 31st, 2024, the Vermont Communications Union Districts Association (VCUDA) together with member CUDs from across Vermont convened at the State House in Montpelier for Vermont CUD (Communications Union District) Day. The day was established to raise awareness about the efforts to expand broadband internet access in Vermont.
VCUDA consists of ten CUDs, regional municipalities that have formed in Vermont to provide world-class broadband to unserved and underserved addresses in Vermont. VCUDA elected officers, CUD board members, partners, and staff participated in CUD Legislative Day to demonstrate their progress, express their gratitude, and submit their request to legislators for continued statewide support.
Vermont Communication Districts:
Southern Vermont Communications Union District
Throughout the day, VCUDA and CUD representatives attended various sessions including:
Meeting with Speaker of the House, Jill Krowinski,
Meeting with President Pro Tempore Phil Baruth,
Providing testimony to the Senate Finance Committee,
Meeting with Lt. Governor David Zuckerman,
Attending the Senate Appropriations Committee discussion on the Budget Appropriations Act,
Providing testimony to the House Energy and Environment Committee,
Attending the House session where Rep. Jim Masland read the Resolution to recognize and honor the organizations and individuals working to resolve Vermont’s rural broadband access crisis.
Legislative Day demonstrated a collaborative spirit among the CUDs with optimistic growth as they head into 2024. The day allowed the CUDs to celebrate progress, share information, and rally support for ongoing efforts to improve broadband infrastructure throughout the state. Among the most notable conversations and key takeaways, this presence showed a joint effort and mutual understanding among the CUDs.
When possible, CUDs will be working together to share limited resources as much as possible. As a result of a retreat CUD leaders participated in after Legislative Day, their focus included ways to be stronger together by sharing resources and working collaboratively. This applies to project management, HR, IT, grant preparation including BEAD and others.
The Senate Finance Committee was very interested in the timeline and specifically asked for a project completion date. They had also noted the need for closely tracking this progress. Robert Fish, Deputy Director of the Vermont Communications Broadband Board (VCBB), provided assurances regarding accountable and transparent reporting. Since each CUD varies in terms of their maturity with ECFiber leading the way with its progress, an estimated completion date relies on several factors including funding.
The Lt. Governor was very engaged in CUD progress and offered his continued help if any of the CUDs face any obstacles. He sees the CUD initiative being integrally connected to housing as the state’s population grows and people need broadband.
Although the VCBB provides a regulatory role among CUD efforts, the CUDs are interested in collaborating more with the VCBB to pursue a mutually beneficial relationship with unified goals.
The day was a big success! We look forward to collaborating with our sister CUDs, legislators, and partners in 2024. A special thank you to our representatives and their continued support of our work.