Expanding high speed internet service to the state’s underserved areas would cost almost $300 million, according to a study that looked at whether electric companies could help fill the gap.
The report found providing internet service to unconnected areas could be done more cost effectively if utilities partnered with existing internet service providers.
The study was required as part of a package of broadband legislation passed last year.
Lawmakers wanted to know whether electric companies could use existing infrastructure to help expand internet service to the roughly 80,000 residents with poor internet service, or none at all.
Electric companies would face high costs, with unknown consequences to ratepayers, if the utilities offered Vermonters both electricity and internet service, according to the report. The infrastructure costs to cover those residents were estimated to be $284 million.
But there is potential for the electric companies to let broadband providers piggyback on the existing utility infrastructure to expand internet services.