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Vermont Debuts Trial of Rural Broadband System

in Broadband's Impact/States by

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2010 – This Monday, the architects of Vermont’s experimental rural fiber network, the East Central Vermont Community Fiber Network, announced that financing for the project was “well under way.” The pilot is expected to be a trial of a new concept envisioned by Project Director and former general manager of Burlington Telecom Tim Nulty that rural broadband access can be offered at no risk to taxpayers. Currently, Nulty projects that the project will become profitable if just under half of all households in the covered area subscribe to the new network.

Nulty’s promise of financial support for the new network comes just three years after his previous employer, Burlington Telecom, was cited for having “serious financial difficulties.” As of this year, Burlington Telecom still “spends far too much” and has never met its promise of self-sufficiency, according to a Blue Ribbon Commission.

While the financing is “well under way” now, its sources have not been disclosed to the public and are as yet unknown. Bob Merrill, a spokesman for the project, said the network, which is projected to cost $75 million, will not be receiving any stimulus money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s fund, but will rather gain the majority of its funding from private investment and “some additional funds.”

After having received commitments from 27 towns in the region to become part of the network, the network now has contractual agreements with 22 towns in four different counties, and will serve a combined population of 46,500 people. The first of these is expected to be connected in a few months.

The hub is expected to be located in Royalton, and extend coverage to a roughly 12 mile radius from the area.

Mytheos Holt recently graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Government and History, receiving high honors in Government. He served as a weekly columnist at the Wesleyan Argus, Wesleyan University's campus-wide newspaper, and founded the Wesleyan Witness political commentary magazine. He is originally from Big Sur, Calif., and currently resides in Washington, D.C.

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