Officials say federal stimulus money may improve broadband access (Vermont Public Radio)

By Sarah Ashworth

Colchester, VT

(Host) Vermont hopes to use federal stimulus money to provide broadband access to every Vermonter by the end of 2010.

Nationally, the Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes $7.2 billion for competitive grants and loans to expand broadband in under-served areas.

The Vermont Telecommunications Authority reports that about 40 percent of Vermonters still don't have access to high speed internet.

The head of the authority, Bill Shuttleworth, says Vermont will apply for at least three grants to target some of the most difficult coverage areas in the state.

(Shuttleworth) "Can we get funding for the remaining ten percent of Vermont that are clearly the most cost challenged in terms of providing service, so we're looking for some help there. The service provider community has joined in this effort in terms of defining what they can do to solve the remaining problem. We will also be looking for help on the mobile side of the equation."

(Host) Shuttleworth says that first he would like to see the stimulus money improve mobile phone coverage on the interstate and state highways in Vermont.

He also says stimulus funds could go toward building a statewide fiber-optic network.