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.
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 Newest Round of Connectivity Initiative Grants Press Release issued on April 26, 2019. The next RFP is scheduled for December 2020.