Scott, Welch announce $16 million awarded for Vermont broadband projects

By Brent Addleman | The Center Square

Broadband grants will soon be doled out for construction projects in the northern part of Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott said.

Office of the Governor

Gov. Phil Scott announced two broadband projects have been awarded $16 million in funding through the American Rescue Plan Act for broadband projects in the Northeast Kingdom.

The governor, along with Democratic U.S. Sen. Peter Welch and the Vermont Community Broadband Board, said $16 million in connectivity grants will fund fiber broadband service to Bolton and a group of towns in the Northeast Kingdom. The projects must be completed in the next two years.

“These two grants are the start of a major statewide broadband buildout effort unlike anything in Vermont since rural electrification and the highway system,” Scott said in the release. “And just like those two historic advancements, these investments, and those coming over the summer, will be just as impactful and ensure all underserved Vermonters have access to broadband.”

Grants, according to the release, were provided to NEK Broadband, a Communications Union District, and Waitsfield Champlain Valley Telecom, which is a small, family-owned telephone operator.

Welch said the grants will bring more families better broadband that will make it easier for work, completing schoolwork, and staying connected.

“These grants will help thousands of families get connected and give our state the tools to build a reliable and accessible broadband network,” Welch said in the release. “This federal and state partnership is a model for how we can work together to help build stronger communities across the state.”

According to the release, the first grant approved by the board for $15,899,089 went to the Communications Union District, which serves the Northeast Kingdom, the three northeastern counties of the state. The company, according to the release, will allow the company to build 215 miles of network that will connect 1,479 households.

“This is a watershed moment for our CUD,” NEK Broadband Governing Board Chairman Evan Carlson said in the release. “We are thrilled to now have the funds in hand to get construction underway.”

Concord, Kirby and Waterford will be the focus of early construction, according to the release, and fan out to Brighton, Burke, Danville, Groton, Newark and Peacham. NEK received $6.9 million that will support efforts before construction begins for 2,800 miles of cable-based, fiber optic internet for both residents and businesses in the region.

According to the release, the second grant to Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom will allow for the company to complete a fiber home project for customers it serves in the Bolton area. Currently, there are 271 homes underserved in the area.

The grant funding, according to the release, is $421,000 for the project, and Bolton is assisting with $200,000 for the project. The telecom company is footing the bill for the remaining $1.297 million, with any remaining costs covered by private and local contributions.

The board is poised to consider projects from Maple Broadband, Deerfield Valley Fiber, and Central Vermont Fiber in June. The state has allocated $254 million in broadband funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Image courtesy of Office of the Governor

One thought on “Scott, Welch announce $16 million awarded for Vermont broadband projects

  1. Join me for a historical walk down memory lane regarding the future faking “State wide broadband service”

    Gov. Peter Shumlin promised Friday that every Vermonter will have access to broadband computer services in their homes and businesses by the end of 2013 (Times Argus December 2011)

    Gov. Peter Shumlin today announced that the responsibilities of Connect Vermont, the temporary office created to expand high-speed broadband internet access statewide by the end of 2013 (Public announcement Jan 2013)

    In his 2007 inaugural address, Republican governor Jim Douglas pledged to connect the state by 2010. He worked with the legislature to create the Vermont Telecommunications Authority, which had broad power to fund and build broadband using state and federal dollars.

    In June, 2019, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed H.513 (now Act 79), which aims to expand broadband services throughout the state.

    Surely, another $16 million will make it happen this time! Vermont is a cesspool of corruption.

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