Governor Scott Announces $9.9 million in grants to Accelerate Broadband Buildout in Four Vermont Communication Union Districts
Montpelier, Vermont – The Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB), along with the Governor, Congressman Welch and other state and federal officials and representatives of many of the state’s Communications Union Districts, celebrated the awarding of $9.9 Million in Preconstruction Grants to four Communication Union Districts (CUDs) in an event in Montpelier Monday. The Districts represent 64 Vermont towns and villages.
Governor Scott celebrated the investment, “We all know how important broadband is to Vermonters and our economy. Connectivity is essential to our everyday lives, the way we do business, and how we stay connected with family and friends. Making investments in this critical infrastructure will allow us to grow in all 14 counties and help us retain and attract more workers, and I’m excited this work is moving forward.”
The NTIA has released a new map showing indicators of broadband need. It takes several data sources, combines them, and then shows how different parts of the country compare.
It’s a fascinating map, showing where people in the US are getting fast internet speeds (big cities, Silicon Valley, and a few places here and there), and how the rest of us are doing.
For Windham County the numbers are like this:
There were many big issues at Tuesday’s meeting of the Brattleboro Selectboard but the biggest of them all was an extended discussion about dismantling a racist system by defunding the Brattleboro Police. Citizens were rather clear and consistent in asking that the General Fund budget be voted down, and that funding for the police be reassigned to social services.
The system moves slowly, they were told, and their attention should be placed on next year’s budget process. The board committed to making a re-evaluation of community safety a priority in the near future, but passed the budget by a 3-2 split vote.
The Windham Regional Commission (WRC) and its partners, ValleyNet and Rural Innovation Strategies Inc. (RISI) were awarded a Broadband Innovation Grant (BIG) from the state’s Department of Public Service in late December 2019. The resulting Windham Region Broadband Project was informed by the hard work of many town broadband committees and other volunteer efforts, as well as education and outreach organized by the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation.
WRC understands the importance of high-quality, high-speed and reliable internet access to our communities for many reasons – connecting students with teachers and online education resources, connecting patients with medical providers, connecting rural businesses with clients and employers with employees, as well as for entertainment and news. Broadband can provide that level of service to Windham Region communities that are currently unserved and underserved.
The Brattleboro Selectboard heard about planning for one or more possible communications districts at their regular Tuesday meeting. Fiber might be coming to southern Vermont, depending on the results of a new survey everyone is encouraged to fill out and how applicable those results are to a business plan.
The Hazard Mitigation Plan was reviewed, liquor violators questioned, and reports given on a recent town governing day at the state level.
The Brattleboro Selectboard contemplated strange things at their regular Tuesday meeting. Shall we plant $16,000 worth of carbon-capturing trees? Could we do without paved roads? Should we bring the trolley back along RT. 9? None of these were agenda items per se, but they were intriguing side thoughts to scheduled conversations.
A municipal broadband survey is coming your way, the sustainability coordinator is on the job, and most liquor licenses will be renewed without incident.
The Brattleboro Selectboard had their final meeting before Santa’s visit next week, discussing municipal broadband, finances, the Grand List, a housing grant, and FY21 loose ends. Was it enough for them to stay on the “nice” list? Read on to find out.
The Brattleboro Selectboard has a short agenda awaiting them at their next regular meeting. There will be an update on municipal broadband funding, financial reports, updates to the grand list, a grant close out hearing, and consideration of FY21 budget loose ends. You can, as always, bring up other items not on the agenda during public participation.
We moved our web design business to Brattleboro in 2001. People around Brattleboro were mostly using modems, and Sovernet was just beginning to sign people up for (relatively slow) DSL connections. We limped by, overpaid, and designed local web sites for low bandwidth knowing most people were stuck at low speeds around here.
As time went on, things didn’t really speed up much here, but friends (and competitors) in bigger cities were leaping ahead. While we were lucky to get 3-7 Mbps here, they were enjoying 200 Mbps or more.
A Brattleboro Selectboard quartet decided Tuesday night to proceed on a path toward suing opioid manufacturers and providers. The board didn’t see any need to spare local pharmacies from potential litigation, and wasn’t sure about suing local doctors.
The board continued their discussion of municipal broadband, bought winter salt and sand, heard a report on progress at WSWMD, and got a final financial report from retiring John O’Connor.
The Brattleboro Selectboard learned the tales of five nearby municipal broadband projects and expressed varying levels of support for something local, along with many questions. Some answers will come at their next meeting.
The Work Today program is being delayed until spring 2020, the parking garage will get a new elevator cab, the DPW will get their generator, and the Town hopes to get some volunteers for committees.
An unusually-short agenda awaits the Brattleboro Selectboard at their next regular meeting. Short agendas sometimes imply absent board members.
They will get an update on the Work Today program at Youth Services and hear results of staff research into a potential new utility, municipal broadband. There are just two other items – buying a generator and announcing committee vacancies. You can extend this meeting by bringing up other items not on this tiny agenda during Public Participation.
The Brattleboro Selectboard was reduced to four members for their meeting Tuesday, and Tim Wessel sat in as Chair for the evening. They managed to get through a long agenda with relative efficiency.
A new goal to examine the impact of the opioid epidemic in Brattleboro is being considered, as is a new handicap parking space on the east side of Main Street. The state may have programs that might eventually help Brattleboro with broadband issues, Brattleboro is paving streets in Esteyville and buying a new dump truck, and much more.
A packed agenda awaits the Brattleboro Selectboard for their first regular meeting of May. Brattleboro broadband possibilities and a handicapped parking space on Main Street are just two items of note.
They’ll also talk about liquor licenses for new and old establishments. They will buy a dump truck, authorize improvements to the parking garage, plan summer paving, and discuss goals and town operations. There are grants to apply for, farm taxes to be stabilized, meetings to cancel, and more. And you can bring up other items during public participation.
If you want to learn how Vermont is going to have 100Mbps broadband available to most residents by 2020 (or actually why it very probably will not), which was the goal of Vermont’s 10 year Telecommunications Plan in 2014, watch this video. The second speaker, starting at around 50
minutes in, is particularly interesting and he provides a lot of researched results on the failings of the previous “plan” (which seems to have basically been a legal requirement to develop a plan, which was ignored due to a lack of legal enforcement and funding):
Brattleboro could do much better with technology, and as a result do better as a Town. There are some obstacles in the way, though:
Poor Internet Choices
Brattleboro choices for Internet are rather poor. Hardly anyone here gets 25 megabits down and 3 megabits up, a standard definition of broadband. To approach those speeds one must pay a small monthly fortune.
As Brattleboro begins down the path toward adding municipal broadband utility, the ACLU has weighed in with a new report “The Public Internet Option – How Local Governments Can Provide Network Neutrality, Privacy, and Access for All.”
The report compares the necessity of internet access to that of electricity and water, and says that the rollback of net neutrality laws and enforcement threatens equal access (as we have for say, roads and bridges).
The Brattleboro Selectboard held a meeting full of exciting twists and turns. From a sudden interest in municipal broadband to a re-examination of requiring write-in candidates to pre-register, the meeting was full of surprises.
There were the scheduled issues as well with liquor licenses renewed, an animal control officer appointed, grants accepted, and so on, but even these provided curious side paths. Consider, for example, that the board decided to willingly challenge what they felt was an unfair ordinance, all in the name of compassion. Or the matter of the fly in need of rescue… In short, it was an eventful meeting.