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News & Press: In the Media

Communications Union District Planned in Northeast Kingdom

Friday, July 5, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jeff Couture

Efforts are underway to bring a communications union district to parts of the Northeast Kingdom next year, which could expand access to broadband internet in a place that trails much of the state.

A district would allow municipalities to share services, and it could include 10 towns in the region, said Evan Carlson, an entrepreneur-in-residence at Lyndonville’s Do North Coworking center who is part of a group working on the plan.

The group includes representatives from each of those 10 towns: Burke, Danville, East Haven, Kirby, Lyndon, Newark, Sheffield, St. Johnsbury, Sutton and Wheelock.

To qualify as broadband, a fixed (rather than mobile) service needs a download speed of 25 megabits per second and an upload speed of 3 megabits per second, the FCC says.

The Northeast Kingdom’s three counties — Caledonia, Essex and Orleans — have some of the lowest availability of 25-and-3 coverage in Vermont. Essex has the lowest rate at 21.7%, according to state data from 2018. Orleans has the third-lowest at 50.6%, and Caledonia has the fourth-lowest at 51.2%.

Right now, representatives are reaching out to people in their towns to explain how a district would work, Carlson said. Starting in October, they will ask selectboards to add a question about joining the district to 2020 March Town Meeting Day ballots.

State law requires at least two municipalities to create a district.

Read the full VTDigger article.