Connectivity Initiative Grants
Funded through the Vermont Universal Service Fund (VUSF), Connectivity Initiative grants are awarded to internet service providers that agree to extend service to designated areas least likely to be served through the private sector or through federal programs. In 2019, the Vermont General Assembly provided $205,000 in one-time funds and authorized a 4 percent increase in the VUSF, dedicated to buildout of infrastructure.
The Connectivity Initiative funds projects that focus on the last mile, minimizing overbuilding of existing cable or DSL infrastructure. Grants are awarded to both fixed and wireless service with preference given to projects that are scalable to serve additional customers and complement other federal, local, and private funding. Towns are encouraged to work with an internet service provider to identify projects that will meet private and public needs. Priority is given to projects that match Connectivity funding with local or private funding, and that establish a nexus between broadband and other community goals.
The Department of Public Service is issuing a new round of Connectivity Initiative funding along with the newly-created Get Vermonters Connected Now Initiative ("GVCNI"). This grant cycle will be funded by the Coronavirus Relief Fund, and is subject to its restrictions. H.966, which establishes the GVCNI, directs the Department to prioritize underserved locations with K-12 students, teleworkers, and those with identified telehealth needs. The Department will publish periodically updated lists of eligible and priority addresses. Priority addresses are defined as:
- Locations lacking a connection faster than 4/1Mbps
- Locations with a K-12 student lacking a 25/3 Mbps connection
- Locations with a remote worker lacking a 25/3 Mbps connection
- Locations with telehealth needs lacking a 25/3 Mbps connection
The Department is making $12 Million available for grants, which will be distributed in three funding rounds of $4 Million each. The upcoming deadlines for proposal submission are August 14 and August 21, 2020. For more information, please see the links below.
Scoring priority will be lent to projects that provide service to locations lacking 4/1 service (2.5x points per location), priority locations (2.5x points per location), at 100/100 speeds (2.5x points per location). Penalties will be applied for services that will cap or throttle data beneath 1TB.
In April 2019, the Department of Public Service announced nearly $220,000 in grant awards to internet service providers to boost broadband internet speeds at more than 220 eligible locations in 12 rural Vermont communities. Recipients of the most recent grants, awarded in 2018, include:
- ECFiber, awarded $63,250 to bring fiber optic cable service to 49 homes and businesses in the towns of Tunbridge and Corinth.
- Consolidated Communications, Inc., which received $44,498 to expand broadband to 37 homes and businesses in Barnet.
- Pear Networks and Kingdom Fiber, which received a grant of $85,000 to bring fiber optic cable service to 126 homes and businesses in Bloomfield, Brighton, Brunswick, Canaan, Ferdinand, Lemington, and Maidstone.
- MCFiber, which was awarded $21,200 to extend fiber optic cable service to six locations in Underhill.
- Southern Vermont Cable, awarded $5,636 to provide cable internet to 11 homes in Putney.
For more information, please see the Connectivity Initiative 2019 Grants Press Release issued on April 26, 2019. The next RFP is scheduled for December 2020.