WASHINGTON July 2 – Two Vermont telecommunication organizations were awarded a total of $47.1 million in federal economic recovery grants to build fiber optic networks that will help form the core of Vermont’s broadband network. The new funds will be used to wire “anchor institutions” across the state and bring high-capacity, lightning-fast, affordable broadband bandwidth closer to end users.
“Every day I hear from Vermonters upset about inadequate broadband service in our state,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has long been an advocate of affordable and universal broadband service. “This $47 million award of federal grants will bring Vermont broadband service into the 21st century. It will improve our business climate and help our schools, colleges, hospitals and other medical facilities perform better. It must also pave the way for reasonably-priced broadband services for virtually every household in the state of Vermont.”
The National Telecommunications Information Administration is awarding a $33.4 million grant to the Vermont Telecommunications Authority and a $13.7 million grant to the Vermont Telephone Company through a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. The two grants are part of a $7.2 billion broadband investment program that Congress and President Obama crafted as part of last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
VTA will use the funds to build Vermont Fiber Link, a statewide, mid-mile fiber network increasing bandwidth and reducing broadband costs to state offices, healthcare institutions, schools and other critical customers. Springfield-based VTEL will use the $13.7 million grant to create an open-network middle-mile hub-and-spoke fiber network to schools, colleges, public safety facilities, healthcare facilities, and telecommunications providers.
“This is a major infrastructure investment in the future of Vermont’s economy,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy. “It is no overstatement to say that the future of Vermont’s economy depends upon the swift and complete deployment of broadband throughout our state. said Rep. Peter Welch.
Friday’s announcement complements an announcement Leahy, Sanders and Welch made earlier this year of a $69 million Department of Energy American Recovery and Reinvestment Act smart grid grant. That grant will be used to deploy technology, including high-speed internet access and fiber optic infrastructure, to better manage power demand and supply.