VCBB Announces Innovative Public-Private Effort to Accelerate Fiber Broadband Construction
Christine Hallquist, Executive Director of the Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB) announced today that the Vermont State Employees Credit Union (VSECU), the Vermont Community Foundation (VCF), and Vermont’s Communications Union Districts Association (VCUDA) have partnered to purchase over 1,000 miles of fiber-optic cable in time for the 2022 construction season, in conjunction with a 1,000-mile purchase by NEK Broadband, the state’s largest Communications Union District (CUD). The 2,000 miles of cable will be used to build publicly owned broadband networks across the state of Vermont.
Hallquist says that “this partnership provides the capital necessary to make the fiber optic cable purchase in advance of grants to be issued early in 2022. The substantial cost savings will also allow the Communications Union Districts to build out to more addresses providing Vermonters with access to fast, affordable, internet access.”
This purchase comes at a critical moment. Supply chain issues and the influx of federal funds to build fiber optic networks have resulted in long wait times for delivery, in some instances as long as 52 weeks. According to CCG, a telecommunications consulting firm, and discussions with distributors, pricing for domestically produced fiber, as required by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), is soaring. The National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) is providing this fiber at a fixed price but expects their prices to increase by 35% early next year. The fiber purchased by VCUDA and NEK Broadband this month will begin to arrive in the spring of 2022.
The nearly seven-million-dollar combined purchase would not have been possible without the support of funding partners VSECU and the Vermont Community Foundation. Both institutions demonstrate their community-first values with this effort to bring high-speed internet to every Vermonter.
Video from today's Press Conference about the partnership is available.
For more information, please see the Press Release document.