Channeling Herbert Hoover’s election promise in 1929, of “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage,” gubernatorial nominee Christine Hallquist is telling Vermont voters if she is elected, they will become the first state to get all-inclusive internet access, The Nation reported. Hallquist’s proposal would have electric companies install fiber optic cable anywhere service is provided in the state.
Rural areas, especially in Vermont, currently struggle to receive reliable coverage. According to Hallquist, two thirds of the Vermont population lives in rural areas, and she believes everyone deserves the same coverage. Hallquist said, “It directly relates to people’s lives—fiber is the tool, it’s the method to make a better life. You can’t build a 21st-century economy on copper infrastructure.”
Hallquist says her plan to use utility companies’ labor, equipment, and service areas, will save money by having one infrastructure instead of two. Unions such as The Communication Workers of America have been historically against public backed broadband strategies. When Hallquist was asked how she would get them to agree with her plan, her response was that union workers would do well to work for utilities because workers installing the cable would receive better benefits and pay than private telecom installers.
This model would allow telecoms to lease fiber optic cable from the utilities installing it. Hallquist said she would not compete with telecoms because it would be illegal to do so, and she didn’t foresee much push back from private telecoms.
“I talked to our legacy provider beforehand, and they’re losing so much money on infrastructure they’re happy to get rid of it,” Hallquist told The Nation.
Overall, Hallquist’s greatest ambition is to solve climate change, and this plan is the first step. She said, “We have to electrify our economy, and the solution is: get a solid fiber connection to every home and business, send price signals to appliances, install electric storage, and make strategic grid investments in order to enable renewables.”
October 30, 2018