The Vermont Department of Public Service is crafting an emergency Covid-19 broadband plan that, if enacted, would provide internet connection to all Vermont residents at a cost ranging from $85 million to $293 million.
The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted internet service gaps in Vermont, as some rural students have struggled to take part in remote learning, employees have been required to work from home, and doctors offer more treatment through telehealth services.
Under pressure heightened by the pandemic, lawmakers and state officials have been looking to federal funding — including a $1.25 billion grant the state has received to cover costs related to the Covid-19 pandemic— and considering how to quickly build out broadband.
Officials with DPS told lawmakers Tuesday that they were writing the emergency plan, which will be published in full on May 5.
Under the plan, the state would provide internet providers with subsidies to build out broadband to homes that lack connection, or have poor service. The department estimates it would benefit about 69,000 Vermonters.
Carriers would vie for subsidies during an auction process that could be held as early as October. All towns would be included in the auction process.