News Release — VTel
November 19, 2013
Vice President, Business Development
KSE Partners, LLP
Telephone company to also provide digital literacy training for new Internet users
Springfield, Vt.–– Vermont Telephone Company (VTel) and Google have teamed up to offer digital literacy training opportunities and free computer equipment to 400 underserved Vermont homes, with a special focus on low-income households and senior citizens who are new to the Internet.
The VTel-Google Chrome program offers a free Google Chromebook to eligible new VTel Internet customers, and free digital literacy training sessions taught by an experienced VTel trainer.
“It is great that seniors and lower income school children may have the technology and training for access to, and safer experiences in, the online world,” said Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell.
The VTel-Google Chrome Program is intended to help Vermonters make the transition to a broadband culture at a time when VTel is rapidly expanding broadband access in Vermont.
“As we build out our network in Vermont we take very seriously our responsibility to help Vermonters learn to leverage the power of the Internet in their lives. We are grateful to Google for partnering with us to help Vermonters get the most from our network, and safely get started online,” said VTel’s Vice President of Business Development, Diane Guité.
Google Chromebooks are designed to be safe, simple, secure, and convenient. Because everyone logs on with their own unique account, and applications and data are not stored on a hard drive, users do not have to worry about updates or downloading viruses.
The Chromebook is pre-loaded with the Google Drive application, which integrates with Google’s free cloud-based software so users can avoid the purchase of costly software licenses. As an added bonus, user data saved on the Chromebook is safely stored and backed up in the cloud, with fifteen gigabytes of free storage from Google and two terabytes of free storage from VTel. And finally, the Chromebook is very lightweight.
To date, over 90 Google Chromebooks have been distributed to low-income and elderly customers in VTel’s service territory. VTel has been conducting Internet training classes for more than two years, and calls these sessions VTel Rural Technology Farm Forums. More than 2,000 Farm Forum sessions have been initiated and completed by VTel with hundreds of rural Vermonters.
VTel was selected in 2013 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as one of 12 companies nationally to experiment with offering $10/month Lifeline Internet to qualified households. The Google Chromebook partnership further augments this Lifeline program, as many households who have received a Chromebook and who are participating in VTel’s digital literacy training classes are also enrolled in Lifeline Internet. “We’re proud that Vermont is helping lead the way to bring traditionally hard-to-reach users onto the Internet,” said Diane Guité.
VTel’s GigE billion-bit-per-second fiber-to-the-home project, coupled with statewide 4GLTE broadband, is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS).
“With RUS we have one of the most visionary agencies of the United States government, and with Google the most visionary technology company in the world,” said VTel CEO Dr. Michel Guite. “It is very humbling for our small rural enterprise. We’re working ‘round the clock to make our Vermont project a success.”