Vermont gets big boost for rural Internal broadband projects

Vermont Telephone Company (VTel) received a major U.S. Department of Agriculture rural broadband grant and loan award as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The total project cost will be more than $146 million including $30 million of private capital to be invested by VTel.

VTel was awarded an approximately $82 million grant and $35 million loan to bring broadband service to more than 130,000 unserved and underserved Vermonters. VTel believes that this project, along with services already in place, will result in virtually all Vermonters having high quality broadband available. Moreover, because the project uses 4G wireless technology, it will contribute to the rapid improvement of cellular coverage in Vermont.

This latest announcement comes on the heels of a recent broadband award for nearly $48 million to the Vermont Telecommunications Authority (VTA) and VTel to build-out middle-mile fiber and bring ultra high-speed broadband to "anchor" institutions throughout the state.

Vermont electrical utilities were also awarded a nearly $60 million grant to achieve a statewide Smart Grid to help increase energy efficiency, promote renewable source of power and provide Vermonters with more information and control over how they use energy. The total stimulus broadband and smart grid awards to Vermont and Vermont companies are almost $250 million - critical capital funding that is needed to make the e-State a reality.

Vermont's Chief Technology Officer Tom Evslinsaid that "despite the Great Recession (2009-10) - which made private capital hard to come by - we have now obtained from state, federal, and private sources virtually all the capital we need to achieve our initial e-State goals and even more. We are funded to have the smartest electrical grid and best statewide communication capability in the nation."

In addition to these awards, state government is making additional taxpayer investments to bring broadband to every corner of the state.

A proposed statewide "Backroads Broadband" program also joined nearly $3 million added to the jobs bill. Officials claim the program, along with additional support of the VTA, will help bring services to "last mile" customers.

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