Vermont consumers get poor value for their internet dollar

Surfshark

Vermont ranks 45th in the nation in internet value

By Guy Page

Vermont gets by far the least value for its internet dollar among the northeastern states, according to a study by Surfshark.com.

Vermont ranks 45th in the nation in internet value – i.e. what customers get for what they pay – in stark contrast to #2 Rhode Island, #4 Massachusetts, and #8 Connecticut. Maine and New Hampshire are more “middle of the pack.”

But Vermont officials have invested – big – to improve Vermont’s poor internet service.

Vermont has been trying for decades to provide universal broadband internet service. The Governor and the Vermont General Assembly have appropriated $245M in broadband funding from the American Rescue Plan, the federal pandemic-era ‘recovery’ spending bill. Last year the Legislature established the Vermont Community Broadband Board to administer these funds.

November 8, several Chittenden County towns voted to become the state’s 10th Communication Union District (CUD). This vote means 213 of Vermont’s 252 towns are members of a CUD. This includes more than 93% of the locations in the state without broadband of at least 25/3 Mbps. More than 76% of Vermonters are now represented by community-grounded organizations with the goal of ensuring residents have broadband service capable of nearly unlimited speeds.

Longtime legislative broadband champion Rep. Laura Sibilia (Bennington-Windham county district House member) sits on the VCBB Board. Staff members include former gubernatorial candidate and Vermont Electric Co-operative CEO Christine Hallquist (Executive Director) and former Cambridge-Waterville legislator Lucy Rogers (Rural Broadband Technical Assistance Specialist).

Vermont’s first major CUD, ECFiber, was shaken this summer by the alleged embezzlement of $600,000 by an employee of Valleynet, the non-profit overseeing ECFiber. Company officials said the loss of the funds wouldn’t jeopardize plans or operations.

According to Surfshark, when it comes to a state’s internet quality and affordability, multiple factors come into play:

  • Economic position: the wealthiest states get the best internet prices — 83% of high-income states enjoy a high Internet Value Index. Meanwhile, the poorest states have to sacrifice more of their hard-earned money for lower internet value.
  • Population density: population density has a significant correlation (0.74) with the Internet Value Index. Highest-ranking New Jersey has the highest population density (1062 people/sq.mi.) – that’s 12 times more people per square mile than the U.S. average (87 people/sq.mi.).
  • Percentage of urban area: population density tends to coincide with urban areas. States in the best-performing Northeast region have a three-times higher percentage of urban area (20% on average) than states in the worst-performing Southern region.
  • Landlocked or not: The average index of non-landlocked states (0.65) is 25% higher than the average of landlocked states (0.52). The Northeast, the best-performing region, has the lowest percentage of landlocked states (22%).

These rules aren’t set in stone — some states can be anomalous and have good internet value. Take Utah, for example, which has lower income, low population density (39 people/sq.mi.), is doubly-landlocked, has just 1% of urban area, but still ranks 15th in the country by internet value.

Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.

Images courtesy of Public domain and Surfshark
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8 thoughts on “Vermont consumers get poor value for their internet dollar

  1. As a rural Vermonter who pays too much for internet I believe the issue that needs to be addressed it base speed. The best we get here is 10MB w/ a download of ( on a good day) of 1.2MB a sec. That’s not all that fast. Over the air internet is a spotty joke that can be intercepted by whoever has the tech to do so like the Sting Ray system the cops use so either you have to get extra software for safety or especially with satellite you really slow down in the winter with all the clouds so regularly. . Fiber optic gives you the largest bandwidth with the least amount of loss. That is why it is so expensive. Any way you look at it in todays tech that IS the way to go. They speak of being able to stream better w/ wireless it’s not accurate. Even some of the best streaming services recommend a wired connection for say as an example 4K w/ Dolby Atmos. I would think you would get a bit of complaints from people paying good money for a fuzzy picture on a 4K TV.
    Last I heard the center of Burlington has all fiber and they get true GIG speeds and pay about 1/2 of what I do in Addison County on a rural system. Standards for speed really is a must and until those standards are set the phone/internet companies are going to keep shafting we the people.

  2. Still waiting for the total dollar figure regarding broadband started by Governor Douglas in 2007. My calculations show millions upon millions spent and more earmarked to this day. Anyone know where all that money went?

  3. One sentence in this article explains exactly what the problem is:

    “But Vermont officials have invested – big – to improve Vermont’s poor internet service.”

  4. Welcome to liberal utopia Calimont a subsidiary of the west coast Commiefornia where the peon gets porked by brainless leftist commie leaders elected by sheeple. The beatings will continue until moral improves… at least my fiber connection allows me to still work on line and watch streaming TV, while my neighbors suffer with slow speed.

  5. More examples of idiots…they spend $$$$ before they know anything! THEY ARE LAYING FIBER CABLE… WHY! Fiber is okay for cities and houses all packed closely together…but laying miles of expensive $$$ fiber for a handful of rural area homes is IDIOCY!. Any CABLE….fiber or copper is the “Model T” for internet now…..All you need is CELL TOWER coverage…if that is not near you, then why not Elon Musk’s STARLINK low orbit hi speed internet satellite …. Either way….VT will BLOW into hundreds of millions $$$ laying soon-out-of-date cable….whiile the WHOLE WORLD GOES WIRELESS….either thru Cell Towers or Starlink……copper line cable is obsolete…, IMO, so soon will fiber cable be too…..the WORLD is WIRELESS and Starlink now.

    So follow the money…WHO benefits from laying fiber…SUBSIDIZED $$$? WHAT happens when you spend $$$ to lay it and a few years out the customers realize that CELL TOWER internet is cheaper and so is STARLINK!….soon enough all these out of date fiber internet cable firms will need a BAILOUT. You wait and see!

    • This is known as the “Negroponte Switch”:
      The Negroponte Switch is an idea developed by Nicholas Negroponte in the 1980s, while at the Media Lab at MIT. He suggested that due to the accidents of engineering history we had ended up with static devices – such as televisions – receiving their content via signals travelling over the airways, while devices that could have been mobile and personal – such as telephones – were receiving their content over static cables. It was his idea that a better use of available communication resource would result if the information, (such as phone calls). going through the cables was to go through the air, and that going through the air (such as TV programmes) would be delivered via cables. Negroponte called this process “trading places”.
      From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negroponte_switch

    • Yes it may be cheaper but not as reliable. Also Fiber does not accept any of the interferences that copper does, nor have the restrictions. Having worked in the field with all the types of communications you speak of. Nothing beats a land line, nothing. Wireless is more about the convenience of not being tethered. BUT it has its limitations. As a great example I experienced, I had a Xbox360 on wifi. Switched to a land line and suddenly my lag was gone. Download speeds were incredible (being what it is ) I dare you to find real tech numbers that refute what I know to be true. Wireless means more people on same line (HUB) much like cable and as the system getting more bogged down by the use the weaker the overall service is. You also know in most cases who is connected to your system. Wireless is prone to be stolen by neighbors and in some cases a bad person looking to do something on an open wifi connection which most people and places have.
      We have no wireless in our home and when people come over they actually look at us and talk. Unlike so many (not)smart phone users. As far as satellite look at my comment at the top. if its cloudy you got garbage for bandwidth when the satellite is 25000 miles up. I know we tried that years ago and HATED the whole thing.

  6. The return on investment for the tax money we spend on public education in Vermont is also pathetic, and that service is Constitutionally mandated. This supposed lack of “broadband” coverage in VT is blown way out of proportion, and it is silly to compare it to the expansion of the rural electrical grid over the last 80 years. Very few people really need “broadband” which is generally defined as a minimum of 30 Mbps (megabits per second) download speed. I have a DSL with 10 Mbps and videoconferencing and streaming work just fine. If you need to download a 100MB document, just hit send and go get yourself a cup of coffee. Anyone who looks up and can see the sky can currently get satellite-based, high speed internet. Not everyone needs broadband and not everyone needs to live within 10 minutes of a Walmart. For the government to get involved and the taxpayers to be on the hook for wrapping Vermont in fiber networks is ridiculous.

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