Broadbanding Together to Keep Vermonters in Vermont

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The tech community in Vermont is meeting with legislators to make recommendations to expand needed technological opportunities within state borders, reports VTDigger.com.  As a sparsely populated mountainous state, Vermont has challenges bringing wireless coverage to all its citizens. City dwellers likely have access to high speed broadband, while those in more rural area have complained that they have trouble staying connected.

Paul Haskell, representing citizens advocacy group VermontFUTURES, said, “We are looking at needing to staunch this hemorrhage of talent and community from the rural parts of the state and need to make those same parts of the state attractive to young families.” 

The Vermont Technology Alliance, headed by executive director Jeff Couture, is a 200 member organization of state business owners and entrepreneurs. While they want to promote business opportunities in Vermont, they are also mindful of how Act 250 could make it difficult to build new cell towers.  

Established in 1970, Act 250 is Vermont’s Land Use and Development Act. It is administered through the Natural Resources Board and works to address and minimize the effects of development on the environment. “We’re not for or against anything” Mark Heyman, general counsel for computer manufacturer Logic Supply, said of the Vermont legislation. “It’s tricky to come up with the right protection for individuals and businesses and not kill jobs.” More recent legislation also addresses data privacy concerns, which Heyman said should be handled on a federal level.  

Finding the right balance between fostering technology and protecting its citizens figures to be a real tightrope walk for Vermont. Just last fall, a group of telecom and cable providers sued the state citing its restrictive state rules. The lawsuit is still pending as Vermont considers what direction to take. The office of the Attorney General recommended that, “the State wait and see what happens in other states this year, before taking action on this issue.”

January 21, 2019

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