Vermont Libraries Connect to State-of-the-Art Fiber-Optic Network

Release Date: 
December 17, 2014 - 1:30pm

BARRE -- Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, the Vermont Department of Libraries, the Vermont Telecommunications Authority, and Sovernet Communications announced the completion of a successful project which is providing the highest possible capacity broadband for information sharing and communications at 43 libraries across the state.  The Vermont FiberConnect project was funded as part of a $33.4 million federal grant awarded to the Vermont Telecommunications Authority and Bellows Falls-based Sovernet Communications.

"Today's public libraries are key community and information centers," said Martha Reid, the Vermont State Librarian. "In our increasingly digital world, providing high speed broadband in libraries is an essential public resource."

Sovernet's fiber network provides these libraries with fiber broadband necessary for the support and expansion of digital services for the public, including high-speed public computing and wireless service. Additionally, fiber broadband will connect the library credit card billing systems implemented with Quad Payments. It enables use of high-bandwidth programs like video conferencing and video streaming. The project provides state-of-the-art network connectivity to these libraries at a cost below what such a service would have cost individually and enables the libraries to form a secure wide area network with support from the Vermont Department of Libraries.

"Local libraries with enough bandwidth to quickly transfer data, images and video are vital assets to Vermont communities," said Lt. Governor Phil Scott. "By gaining access to high-speed fiber, the tools are now there for our libraries to serve as central hubs for community meetings and disaster response centers -- while continuing to be state-of-the-art resources for Vermonters of all ages."

In addition to the $33.4 million federal grant, matching funds and implementation support totaling $550,000 was provided to the Vermont Department of Libraries by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These investments in the project, along with Sovernet's own investment of $12.5 million and state appropriations of more than $2.3 million, enabled the creation of the new state-of-the-art fiber network.

"Projects like this that improve the fiber optic infrastructure in our communities are a key to delivering better services to Vermonters for decades to come." said Chris Campbell, Executive Director of the Vermont Telecommunications Authority. "The Department of Libraries and the participating libraries around the state are helping to lead the way in delivering these improved services to communities large and small."

"In four years, Sovernet has constructed more than 900 miles of fiber network to deliver affordable, high capacity transport to over 300 Community Anchor Institutions, including 43 Vermont public partner libraries," said Richard Kendall, President and CEO of Sovernet Communications. "Completion of the connection to Barre's Aldrich Library is indicative of what the network enables Sovernet to do for Vermonters, other community anchors, and all businesses into the future."

Libraries currently utilizing this network include small communities such as Rupert, Reading, Guilford, Vernon and Cabot as well as population centers like Bennington, Brattleboro, Montpelier, St. Johnsbury and Rutland. More information, including a full list of the 43 libraries using the fiber network, is available here.

The federal grant was awarded in 2010 by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. It has funded Sovernet's development of fiber-optic infrastructure covering over 800 miles in southern, central, and northeastern Vermont. The network will connect more than 300 community anchor locations, including libraries.

The project leaders expressed their sincere thanks to the dedicated staff and supporters of public libraries around the state and to Gov. Peter Shumlin, U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, U.S. Representative Peter Welch, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Community College of Vermont, the Vermont Agency of Education, the Vermont Department of Information and Innovation, Vermont State Colleges, Vermont Law School, and the Vermont Department of Public Safety for their support and leadership in making the Vermont FiberConnect project a reality.