Millions in Grants Help Boost Vermont Broadband Expansion

A quarter billion dollars in federal recovery money is supporting statewide buildouts of high-speed service 

NBC Universal, Inc.

Four regional organizations in Vermont got a big step closer to their high-speed connectivity goals Friday as the state continues its push to build out access to reliable, high-quality broadband service.

The Vermont Community Broadband Board awarded a $12.29 million grant to CVFiber in central Vermont, a $21.95 million grant to DVFiber serving Vermont’s Deerfield Valley district, a $8.69 million grant to Addison County’s Maple Broadband, and a nearly $5 million grant to NEK Broadband to deploy fiber in the Northeast Kingdom.

The money comes from a $250 million pot of federal recovery funds Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, and the Vermont Legislature directed to efforts to build out broadband.

The four regional districts that received money in the latest round of grants will use it for planning, materials, and construction to get them closer to their connectivity goals.

Brothers Pete and James Burke said they can’t wait until fiber optic cable comes to their family’s house in Marlboro. The high schoolers, who love gaming, said they’ve long been frustrated with slow, unreliable DSL service.

"If you have a question, you go look it up on Google — it doesn’t load," James Burke lamented.

"There are so many awesome things about Vermont, it’s just such a shame the internet is not really quality enough to be usable," Pete Burke added.

Tens of thousands of addresses across Vermont have the same headaches.

The pandemic exposed deep divides in access, creating struggles with work-from-home setups or with telehealth appointments. Some students even had to resort to going to places like fast food restaurant parking lots to find WiFi to do their homework.

"We know in a 21st century economy and culture, people need to be connected," Gov. Scott observed Friday, celebrating the hard work of the communications unions that received the latest grant funds.

Christine Hallquist, the executive director of the Vermont Community Broadband Board, said while there have been challenges — such as inflation causing sharp increases in prices of materials — she is pleased with the progress Vermont is making on expanding broadband.

"We’re looking at building over 1,400 miles of fiber with this funding this year," Hallquist noted Friday.

Edee Edwards of Halifax said she and others in the DVFiber district will really benefit from the service improvements.

"It’s truly not just about cables," Edwards said. "It’s about the connection. The connection to our families, to our friends, to our communities, and for our health."

Hallquist said the goal is to have all corners of the state connected to reliable high-speed broadband service by 2026. 

Contact Us