In its efforts to facilitate statewide universal broadband coverage, Vermont encourages the formation of “union districts,” non-profit organizations that allow municipalities to join together to bring broadband to all members of the group. Northwest Fiberworx, a union district encompassing 22 communities in northwestern Vermont, has announced a new partnership with Great Works Internet Vermont. As VTDigger reports, the fiber-optic broadband deal came about when an earlier arrangement with Google Fiber proved untenable.
Lamoille FiberNet was unable to meet Google’s financial requirements, leaving Northwest Fiberworx without a contracted ISP. With 30,000 participants within the union district, finding a replacement vendor for the district became a crucial matter. Great Works Internet Vermont stepped up to work with Northwest Fiberworx and said that within the next two months, it will submit its applications to the Vermont Community Broadband Board. The application will outline its plan to start deploying broadband fiber services in early 2024.
Noting out that Northwest Fiberworx was the last of the original communications union districts to come to an arrangement with an ISP, deputy director of the Vermont Community Broadband Board, Robert Fish, exclaimed, “It’s a big deal.”
Speaking on behalf of Northwest Fiberworx, Executive Director, Sean Kio said, “We had a very committed board and staff who really tried to push forward and really seek a quality solution that, ideally, is going to bring universal service and some affordability to a district that greatly needs it.” Kio added that it’s fortuitous that the union district already possesses several hundred miles of cabling available to contribute to the project, according to VTDigger.
Although Kio said that the cost of the project was not yet known, he anticipated that funding will be distributed through the Vermont Community Broadband Board. The available money will come from federal American Rescue Plan of 2021 monies with additional funds contributed from the BEAD program.