By Hilary Niles, VTDigger.org
The state will take public comment on Vermont’s draft Telecommunications Plan Aug. 25-28 at four locations around the state.
The Telecommunications Plan is a 10-year policy roadmap for meeting state government’s goals of providing stable and predictable rates for telecom services within a technologically advanced network that reaches all areas of the state.
The plan sets a course for the state’s current and future Internet needs, voice and video markets, and the government’s own telecommunications systems.
Once the plan is finalized, it will be the basis for the state’s telecommunications buildout over the next decade.
According to Department of Public Service (DPS) reporting to the state, service for roughly 25 percent of addresses are below the federal and state objectives of 4 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speed.
In May, lawmakers agreed to set 100 Mbps upload and download speeds as the state’s objective for 2024.
But Jim Porter, director of telecommunications for the Department of Public Service, said 100 Mbps symmetrical speeds are more of an “aspirational goal” than a concrete target.
Before reaching for 100 Mbps by 2024, Porter wants to focus on bringing all addresses in the state up to at least 4 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds.
He thinks that can be achieved by 2020.
Porter said the current draft of the plan places more emphasis on the incremental short-term goals, in large part because their potential funding sources are more clear. Regulatory uncertainty — namely, the state’s lack of authority to regulate Internet providers — further hampers the state’s ability to plan, Porter said.
Public hearings are scheduled (all at 7 p.m.): Aug. 25 in Burlington; Aug. 26 in Brattleboro; Aug. 27 in Barre; and Aug. 28, at Hampton Inn, 47 Farrell Road, Rutland.