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CVFiber continues to make progress in deploying affordable fiber to long-neglected rural areas in Vermont, as the state’s effort to embrace CUDs (Communications Union Districts) as a cornerstone of bridging the digital divide also pays dividends.
In late 2022 CVFiber broke ground on an ambitious plan to build a 1,200-mile fiber-optic network to bring affordable gigabit broadband access to 6,000 rural Vermont addresses deemed underserved by commercial broadband providers.
According to an October announcement by the CUD, its first customers have been connected in the central Vermont town of Calais, with construction ongoing in nearby Middlesex, East Montpelier, and Worcester.
“We are enthusiastic about our progress as we bring high-speed Internet to central Vermont communities,” CVFiber Executive Director Jennille Smith said. “The progress that we have made and the impact that we’ve been able to achieve to date could not have been accomplished without the unwavering commitment from our partners. We are optimistic as we expand to other service areas.”
CUDs have proven to be a useful way for municipalities to band together to cooperatively build broadband projects that may have been financially and logistically impossible to try alone. Vermont CUDs can legally fund needed broadband expansions through debt, grants, and donations—but not taxes, though they themselves are tax-exempt nonprofits.
CVFiber’s fiber deployment is expected to cost $60 million, $27 million of which is being paid for by federal grants made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The remaining cost is expected to be funded by network revenue, loans, and future grant opportunities.
Naming groups of things is one of the few pure joys in life. But despite having a shiver of sharks, a thunder of hippopotami, a discovery of witches, and about a million others, as of yet we've got nothing to describe a group of Internet access and infrastructure who have forgotten more about the business of broadband than the average person is likely to ever see, smell, or hear. From the economics of building fiber networks to the technical challenges of different radio spectrum bands, they separate the signal from the noise every single day.
So how about a scattering of wonks?
This week on the podcast, we bring over the most recent conversation from our Connect This! Show, where for 80 episodes we've hosted broad discussions about broadband policy and infrastructure deployments and live by the mantra that the devil's in the details. Christopher is joined by Travis Carter (USI Fiber), Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber), and Heather Gold (Mears Group) to tackle a host of issues, including why we don't see more cities doing deals with entities like Google Fiber, what we can expect now that Anna Gomez has been confirmed to the FCC, what it means for BEAD grantees if the Affordable Connectivity Program goes away, and more.
Along the way, they hit on what we're seeing in Vermont's Communications Union Districts, a partnership in West Des Moines, Iowa, and whether there's renewed hope for the ACP as it nears the six-month mark from running dry.
We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.
Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.
Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.