The Mountain Times

°F Fri, April 18, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Vermont at cutting edge on broadband

On July 17 Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proclaimed that 14 towns in a region in southeastern Vermont are getting the fastest consumer connection to the internet anywhere in the United States.

That region is Springfield and 13 neighboring towns - Killington, Bridgewater, Chester, Saxons River, North Springfield, Grafton, Cuttingsville, Wallingford, Hartland, Pawlet, Danby, Mt. Holly and Middletown Springs - are in the process of getting state-of-the-art internet access at speeds 100 times faster than average and faster than anywhere else in the United States except a Kansas City, Mo., pilot project by Google.

"Vermont may be on the verge of reaping enormous dividends from this historic investment in our future," Sanders said of the new fiber optic service. "The ultra-fast internet offers the chance to dramatically change how we think about education, health care and business," Sanders added.

"The goal now is to use this resource to attract business and create good-paying jobs," Sanders said of the region that once was a national hub for the tool-and-die industry but lost thousands of good-paying jobs as manufacturers shut down.

The cutting-edge development is a result of a federal, state and local government partnership with private business to significantly upgrade the internet infrastructure in the Springfield area and in other parts of Vermont. This particular project is being built by Springfield-based Vermont Telephone Co. VTel, which received federal funds to build the fiber network that will provide affordable broadband access throughout its 14-town service area. VTel's monthly price for the high-speed Internet access is only about $35.

About 1,500 homes and business in the area already have the new fiber-optic connection, a number which VTel expects to double by the end of December. By the end of 2013, VTel says the framework of the fiber work, which includes running the fiber through 14 towns and into neighborhoods, will be complete.

"It does save us time, and time is money," said Doug Friant, the owner of Vermont Timberworks which specializes in designing timber frames and buildings.

Adam Trojanowski, a 38-year-old software developer for IBM who lives in Chester, was one of the first to sign up for the state-of-the art fiber connection. "I work with people in different sites and now I'm on a par with them," he said. "When I told the people I work with who live in New York that I was getting this fiber they were envious. I don't think anywhere in the world has anything faster for consumers."