Vermont takes rural broadband into its own hands under new law
By Katya Schwenk
Vermont will fund homegrown internet service providers under a broadband expansion bill signed last week by Gov. Phil Scott. The move makes Vermont the latest in a series of states that, underwhelmed by the federal government’s solutions to provide internet access, have taken matters into their own hands.
The new law establishes a broadband innovation grant program to kickstart and fund local providers, inspired by the success of ECFiber, an ISP that serves east-central Vermont.
“We have been waiting for the private sector to serve us, and it hasn’t come,” Clay Purvis, the director for telecommunications at the Vermont Department of Public Service, told StateScoop. “And we’ve waited for the federal government to bring us internet service, and it hasn’t come. We’ve come to the realization that no one is going to do this for us, and we have to do it ourselves.”
Purvis said connecting the areas of the state with the most limited connectivity was the top priority of the bill signed into law on June 20.
“We wouldn’t be very tolerant of 7 percent of our state not having electricity,” he said.
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