Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Content tagged with "Consolidated Communications"Displaying 1 - 4 of 4
The Otter Creek Communications Union District (CUD) has been awarded a $9.9 million grant by the Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB). It’s the latest effort by the state to use CUDs to deliver affordable fiber broadband access to the long-neglected rural corners of Vermont.
According to the CUD’s announcement, the funding will help deploy affordable fiber access to roughly 4,100 homes and businesses by 2025. The fiber deployment will be done in partnership with Consolidated Communications, which says it has deployed fiber to 110,000 Vermont homes and businesses since 2021.
The deployment should ultimately bring broadband access to 85 percent of homes and businesses in the Otter Creek CUD area, which covers 17 towns and one city in and near Rutland, Vermont in the southwestern part of the state as 2,300 of the locations targeted by this latest round of funding currently have no access to any broadband service whatsoever.
“We’re excited to work collaboratively with Consolidated to bring future-proof Internet to the 18 communities within our CUD,” Otter Creek CUD Chair Laura Black said in a statement. “This funding will put us well on our way to meeting the goal of universal service in the Rutland region, bringing all the opportunities that come with reliable, high-speed internet. The Otter Creek CUD board is proud to be on the way to bringing the broadband infrastructure this community needs to participate in the global economy.”
Vermont’s nascent Communication Union Districts (CUD) are pioneering creative efforts to deploy affordable broadband to the rural parts of the Green Mountain State. That includes the Lamoille FiberNet CUD, which has greenlit a major new plan to expand affordable access to fiber in the most neglected parts of rural Vermont.
At an Aug. 14th meeting, the Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB) approved Lamoille FiberNet’s $1.3 million pre-construction grant, followed by a mid-September approval of the CUD’s $13.6 million construction grant.
“This grant means that, by the end of 2024, we can bring high-speed internet to almost all the homes and businesses in our CUD that are unserved or underserved,” Lamoille FiberNet Communications CUD Chair Jeff Tilton said in a statement.
With the Lamoille CUD covering 10 towns in the north central part of the state (Belvidere, Cambridge, Eden, Elmore, Hyde Park, Johnson, Morristown, Stowe, Waterville and Wolcott), Lamoille plans to have Fidium Fiber and Consolidated Communications deploy and manage 630 miles of new fiber connecting more than 4,800 unserved and underserved Lamoille County homes and businesses. The network will be deployed in two phases.
After receiving $50 million in new federal funding, the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) has begun a major expansion of its fiber network across large swaths of the state, providing many long-frustrated rural residents access to ultra-fast, affordable broadband for the first time ever.
NHEC currently provides electricity to 88,000 largely rural homes and businesses across 118 New Hampshire communities. In October of last year, NHEC received a $50 million grant from the New Hampshire Business and Economic Affairs Department, made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
“NHEC is a member-owned, nonprofit electric cooperative and our business is providing essential services to rural New Hampshire,” NHEC President/CEO Alyssa Clemsen Roberts said after the grant infusion. “We welcome the opportunity to provide much-needed high-speed internet to the same areas that NHEC first electrified more than 80 years ago. Grant funding is helpful to our plans to reach all underserved members, and we are grateful for the trust placed in us by the BEA to get the job done.”
That money is being used to shore up NHEC’s growing expansion into broadband access via NHEC's wholly owned subsidiary, NH Broadband. NH Broadband began planning its expansion into broadband in 2019, buoyed by another $6.7 million grant made possible by the CARES Act and the Connecting New Hampshire Emergency Broadband Program.
NHEC spokesman Seth Wheeler told ILSR that the initial CARES Act grant helped the company deliver affordable fiber access to 1,500 NHEC subscribers in six towns. The new $50 million grant will supercharge a cooperative effort by NH Broadband to expand that broadband access to 15,000 current NHEC electricity customers.
In November, a majority of voters in China (not the country, but a small town in Maine) cast their ballots in opposition to a $6.4 million proposal for a municipal broadband network that, if built, would have provided high-speed Internet access to every household and business in this central Maine town of 4,300.
In recent weeks, China residents learned that Consolidated Communications would not be coming to the rescue. As reported by The Town Line, two representatives from Consolidated Communications attended China’s Broadband Committee (CBC) meeting in late January and the company reps “did not encourage (China) to expect an offer from the company to expand [I]nternet service to town residents.”
The CBC estimates that Consolidated currently serves about 20 percent of the town, while Spectrum serves about 70 percent of China’s households. But for the remaining 10 percent of China households without access to high-speed Internet service, the CBC meeting was a disappointing dose of post-election news.
Consolidated representatives Simon Thorne and Sarah Davis told the CBC that China is nowhere close to the top of their expansion plans, as the company bases its decisions on a combination of four primary factors: projected cost to build, number of potential customers, expected take rates, and whether a competitor also serves that market.
China’s population density is too low to offer enough profit to attract investors.
And just to be clear, when CBC member Tod Detre suggested the company is focused on “more profitable areas,” Davis replied, “You nailed it.”
‘Spirited Discussion’ About November Election
That, of course, led to a “spirited discussion” about last November’s election results. Ronald Breton, chairman of the select board and a guest at the CBC meeting, was emphatic in saying that town officials were still interested in facilitating town-wide connectivity, noting how even after the November ballot question failed the town select board unanimously voted that the CBC remain intact.