By Brent Addleman | The Center Square
New grants designed to bring broadband to thousands of underserved Vermonters have been approved.
A trio of grants totaling $26.5 million have been greenlighted by the Vermont Community Broadband Board that will be used to connect 4,000 underserved addresses. Funding for the project is culled from American Rescue Plan Act funds, and the first phase of the project will begin in the spring.
To date, according to the release, the board has approved $90.25 million for construction grants to provide broadband to more communities across the state.
Communications Union Districts, according to the release, are working with Consolidation Communications, who will build, maintain, and operate the broadband network, to connect the residents and businesses of 14 towns to have multi-gigabit speed in 2023 while providing competitive prices. Fidium Fiber will deliver the service.
“The VCBB and the CUDs are proud to be working closely with these private telecommunication partners,” Christine Hallquist, executive director of the Vermont Community Broadband Board, said in a release. “This collaboration results in much lower construction costs which frees up funding for the harder to serve areas of the state. These grants included agreements that will provide ongoing public oversight and accountability.”
Maple Valley Broadband/Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom, according to the release, will receive $9.1 million through a partnership to increase the reach of fiber-optic broadband to rural Addison County, including the towns of Bridport, Ferrisburgh, New Haven, Panton, Waltham and Weybridge.
According to the release, the project will add 2,000 customers in parts of Addison County situated in Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom service region, delivering speeds of up to 1 gigabyte to customers.
Waitsfield/Champlain Valley Telecom, according to the release, will garner $8.35 million for a project that would add 1,200 underserved addresses that are not part of the Communications Union District. Charlotte and Bolton will receive full build-outs of broadband service, and another seven towns will have portions added to the network.
The Southern Vermont Communications Union District, according to the release, will get $9 million, and will partner with Consolidated Communications, bringing 6,412 addresses across the southern part of the state into the network. There are 1,300 underserved addresses in the region.