Vermont FiberConnect Project hits milestone
BELLOWS FALLS, VT – July 19, 2012 Sovernet Fiber Corp. and the Vermont Telecommunications Authority (VTA) announced today that the Vermont FiberConnect (VFC) project has recently completed constructing the first 100 miles of fiber optic network. This important milestone comes as the project heads into its final year, with completion of the 821 mile network scheduled for June 30, 2013.
The project will connect over 340 community anchor institutions, including State owned buildings, public safety towers, public and private K-12 schools, public libraries and colleges. Currently Sovernet has over half of the anchors under contract, including 41 libraries and 51 K-12 public schools.
Governor Shumlin praised the milestone noting the State’s financial role in the project, “The investment of $2 million of state capital played a part in leveraging this federally funded collaborative project between Sovernet and the VTA. Connecting Vermont communities with high bandwidth - our schools, libraries, businesses and neighbors - is our highest priority and this is how we get it done. We’re celebrating this milestone and look forward to mile 821.”
After two years of planning and engineering the network, issuing RFPs for construction and electronics, applying for permits and pole attachments on more than 23,000 poles, and working through tropical storm delays – the project has moved into the exciting phase with construction crews on the roads hanging fiber. Sovernet will begin turning up customers on the new network before the end of the year. “We are excited that the extensive planning and hard work over the last two years is translating into tangible progress now visible in our communities. Our fiber construction project is moving as quickly as possible toward a successful completion and the lasting telecommunications infrastructure improvements it will bring for the State of Vermont,” says Sovernet CEO Rich Kendall.
Christopher Campbell, Executive Director of the VTA, added, “Vermont FiberConnect is an example of our commitment to bringing tremendous bandwidth capacity deeply into the hills and valleys of Vermont’s communities. We are excited to have the project into the phase where the fiber is going up on poles at a significant rate every week.”
Dan French is Superintendent of the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union, where all schools but one will participate in VFC. He sums up the benefits of the FiberConnect project this way: “This network offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these districts to have access to abundant bandwidth. Beyond the benefits of enabling local and wide area networks for the schools, Vermont FiberConnect offers potential access to Internet2 and global resources that students could utilize to prepare for the 21stcentury workforce. It also supports the wider economic and social goals of the State of Vermont.”
About Vermont FiberConnect: Vermont FiberConnect is an 812 mile fiber optic network under development by Sovernet Fiber Corp, an affiliate of Vermont-based Sovernet Communications.
The network will connect over 340 community anchor institutions such as K-12 schools, colleges, public libraries, healthcare providers, government offices and public safety communications in southern, central, and northeastern Vermont, encompassing seven of Vermont’s fourteen counties. Vermont FiberConnect is also designed to provide wholesale data transport services to broadband and telecommunications service providers such as Internet service providers, telecom companies and cellular companies. The network will interconnect with several new adjoining regional “middle-mile” fiber networks, including Network New Hampshire Now, MassBroadband 123 and the ION network in upstate New York.
The project has been funded by a combination of public and private capital, including a $33.4 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), a $ 2 million grant from the State of Vermont via Vermont Telecommunication Authority, a $400,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and over $12 million of private capital committed by Sovernet. The VTA is the recipient of and conduit for the federal, state and foundation grants. Sovernet Fiber Corp. will build, own, operate and provide services over the Vermont FiberConnect network.
NTIA funding of the project, through its BTOP “Comprehensive Community Infrastructure” program, is intended to help ensure sustainable community growth, and to provide the foundation for enhanced household and business broadband Internet services by deploying new or improved broadband Internet facilities and connecting “community anchor institutions.” For further information, please visit; www.vermontfiberconnect.com.
About Vermont Telecommunications Authority: The Vermont Telecommunications Authority was established by the Vermont General Assembly in Act 79, passed into law in June 2007. Act 79 established the Vermont Telecommunications Authority to facilitate the establishment and delivery of mobile phone and internet access infrastructure and services for residents and businesses throughout Vermont. The authority is focused on unserved and underserved areas and an overall long term goal of broadband and mobile phone infrastructure throughout the state.
About Sovernet Communications: Sovernet Communications provides reliable Internet and telecommunications services to residential and business customers throughout Northern New England. The Vermont company is headquartered in Bellows Falls, with facilities in Burlington, Winooski and Keene, NH. Sovernet is committed to delivering advanced communications services along with superior customer care and total customer satisfaction, while actively supporting its local communities. For more information, please visit www.sovernet.com.
Deb Shannon Peter Stolley
Director of Broadband Outreach VP of Sales and Marketing
Vermont Telecommunications Authority Sovernet Communications