Nearly $4 Million in State Grants Announced for Internet Providers
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Posted by: Jeff Couture
State officials awarded almost $4 million in grants for projects to expand broadband access during the pandemic, using money directed to Vermont through the federal CARES Act.
The $3,926,650 given out by the Department of Public Service will go to seven internet providers around the state, according to a press release, and fund projects to serve more than 5,800 locations.
“It is our hope that these grants will bring prompt relief to those who have endured poor connectivity through this pandemic,” said Clay Purvis, the department’s telecommunications director.
Almost 40% of the 5,800 locations lack internet speeds of 4 megabits per second for downloads and 1 megabit per second for uploads. That’s the lowest-speed tier Public Service publishes in its broadband availability statistics before deeming an address underserved.
Federal authorities define broadband, or high-speed connection, as achieving speeds of 25 megabits per second for downloads and 3 megabits per second for uploads.
The largest grant — close to $2 million — went to the Vermont Telephone Co., known as VTel.
According to the Department of Public Service, VTel’s project is aimed at providing wireless broadband to just under 4,000 locations.
Other recipients in the first round of awards include Mansfield Community Fiber, the NEW Alliance (a joint venture between Cloud Alliance and New England Wireless), Duncan Cable, Comcast. and Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom.
Officials said more than $8 million remains for both grant programs, and that money will be given out in two more rounds of $4 million.