Among the big-ticket items in Gov. Phil Scott’s proposal is a relatively small request: $500,000 for the FiberConnect Network, a more than 820-mile fiber line that provides high-speed internet to 40 libraries.
Scott and the Legislature seem to have the same reason for doing just about everything but proposing actual solutions. Those solutions are expensive and/or unpopular.
“We have to function much more like a profit-making business without any profits below the line,” one district rep told Rep. Peter Welch this week.
The company proposed projects in Burke and Wilmington, totaling $155,000, to satisfy a January order from the Public Utilities Commission involving service quality.
The $3.9 million from the Department of Public Service will go to seven internet providers around the state, and fund projects to serve more than 5,800 locations.
The Department of Public Service is looking to subsidize well-established internet providers, potentially at the expense of fledgling Communications Union Districts.
The findings come as the Vermont Public Utility Commission considers whether to change the net metering program that pays higher rates for clear energy.
Maine Energy Systems received a $150,000 grant from the state Department of Public Service for the $510,000 project.
The company reported about 200 customers were impacted, but the Department of Public Service said that figure appeared low.
Officials believe the wireless project, aiming to serve hundreds of homes in the Kingdom East school district, could show how similar short-term efforts would work amid the pandemic.
The pivot to remote work and learning in the midst of the coronavirus crisis has revived the debate in Vermont about providing connectivity in rural areas.
Officials are considering using federal relief funds to close the gap in internet service in rural areas. Estimates range from $85 million-$293 million.
State officials and others working in community internet lay out the roadblocks — and strategies — for the new broadband districts in the Northeast Kingdom and elsewhere.
I called with the hope of having unauthorized charges removed from my bill but, instead, was forced into one of the circles of hell not described in Dante’s Inferno.