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Vermont Department of Public Service announces awards for Round 2 of the Covid-19 Emergency Connectivity Initiative and Get Vermonters Connected Now Initiative

Sep 22 2020, 1:55 PM

Vermont Department of Public Service Announces Awards for Round 2 of
the COVID-19 Emergency Connectivity Initiative and Get Vermonters
Connected Now Initiative

Montpelier, Vermont – The Department of Public Service today announced
$3,991,847 in grant awards to Internet Service Providers to serve over
1,651 eligible locations with broadband connections in response to
COVID-19.

The Department awards:

·             $502,000 to ECFiber to extend its fiber network to reach
251 locations;

·             $45,691 to Franklin Telephone to extend its fiber
network to reach 24 locations;

·             $762,662 to Wireless Partners to extend its wireless
network to reach 668 locations;

·             $142,939 to Spectrum (Charter) to extend its cable
broadband service to reach 156 locations;

·             $1,789,150 to Tilson to deploy a fiber network to reach
360 locations;

·             $749,405 to Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom
extend its fiber network to reach 192 locations.

Of those slated to receive service from the grant-funded projects, 804
lack a connection of 4/1 Mbps and 150 were identified as having a
telehealth, distance learning, or telework need.

The goal of the COVID-19 Emergency Connectivity Initiative is to use
Federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to build high-speed broadband service
to unserved and underserved locations by December 30. The Vermont
Legislature, through H.966, also created the Get Vermonters Connected
Now Initiative (GVCNI). The GVCNI provides financial assistance to
Internet Service Providers to offset customer costs of
fiber-to-the-premises installations, such as trenching, conduit
installation, and service drops. The two programs target homes lacking
connections capable of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload (25/3 Mbps
is the Federal definition of broadband) and lend priority to locations
with K-12 students and teachers, telehealth patients and providers,
and teleworkers. “As we move into the Fall Internet connectivity will
be an even more important tool in combating the effects of the public
health emergency,” said June Tierney, Commissioner of the Department
of Public Service. “This round of the Connectivity Initiative will
bring additional fiber to the home broadband to rural Vermont,” added
Clay Purvis, Director of Telecommunications and Connectivity at the
Department.

The Connectivity Initiative, which began in 2015, funds the expansion
of broadband facilities in underserved towns. More than $4,000,000 in
funding remains for the COVID-19 Emergency Connectivity Initiative and
Get Vermonters Connected Now Initiative, to be awarded in one more
round. The awards were made through a competitive bidding process. In
making the awards, the Department sought input from the State’s
Communications Union Districts, who had the opportunity to oppose
projects in their territory they did not find to be in the public
interest. For more information on the Connectivity Initiative, please
visit the Department of Public Service at
https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/connectivity-initiative-0 .

 

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