State News
August 28, 2014

State seeks public opinion on 10-year telecom plan, hearing in Rutland Aug. 28

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.

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1 Comment

  • The public should really speak up about this (embarrassing) lack of a plan. It appears that it was written by a committee of Comcast, VTel and Fairpoint, wanting nothing to change and no one to get involved, informed or to speak up. The “Public Comment Draft” is supposed to be followed by a Final Draft, with hearings including one before a joint committee of the Senate Finance Committee and House Commerce. Insist in this opportunity to review and comment.

    The best thing in the draft is the mention of the goal of statewide fiber by 2024 passed by this years legislature..
    The real discussion need to be around what happens between now and then.
    Do we allow the FCC grant of $50M to Fairpoint as ‘corporate welfare’ to build-out more obsolete ADSL which will never reach the 100Mbps SYMMETRIC speeds required by the 2024 goal?

    Do we continue to spend $9 to $11M monthly for Comcast internet to take the money out of state, rather than invest in municipal fiber build-out networks such as ECFiber? Local jobs building the network, local interest on the loans, local coffee and pancakes, plus tips for the real workers. Lets take this opportunity and make this work for Vermont and Vermonters!

    Fiber allows us to not only consume entertainment for a fee. It allows us to participate, even originate classes in music, art, literature,.woodworking, you name it. and sell or give away these classes worldwide and make this a truly egalitarian network.

    Speak up to reclaim our publicly funded Department of Public Service, supposedly the ‘public advocate’ and insist that they work for the people and not sit idle wile the corporate telecom interests have their way at our expense.

    The governor needs to show some loyalty to the people rather than just the campaign donors!
    Demonstrate some conscience!

    -sw

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