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Vermont's VTel Launches Rural Wireless and Fiber Network

July 07, 2014

Vermont's VTel Launches Rural Wireless and Fiber Network

By Michael Guta
TMCnet Contributing Writer

The beautiful landscape of Vermont is famous for its mountains, trees and a winter wonderland few places in the world can match. While these are all positive qualities, when it comes to deploying fiber infrastructure for high-speed Internet, these very qualities make the job that much harder, especially in rural areas. This generally means companies look to partner with local, state and federal entities to deploy the infrastructure so it can be profitable. As one of the telecoms serving Vermont, VTel, a family-owned company serving Vermonters since 1890, has announced the rollout of a statewide high-speed communications network that will serve segments of rural Vermont.

This announcement is part of a process that began in 2010 when the company received $92 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, which was administered by the Rural Utilities Service and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to improve telecommunications infrastructure in Vermont. Prior to receiving the government funds, the company invested approximately $160 million into its network, including wireless and fiber capabilities.

With an investment of more than a quarter of a billion dollars in place, the company began deploying fiber-to-the-home to 16,000 homes and businesses, wireless broadband to most of rural Vermont, and fiber to institutions like schools and hospitals statewide.

The new deployment will provide a wireless network reaching 20,000 homes and businesses in 24 towns across Vermont, including Berlin, Barnet, Grand Isle, Hardwick, Manchester, St. Albans, and Windsor

Vermont representatives at the local, state and federal level are looking to rank the state first in broadband availability in the country. According to the office of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sander, the state ranked 35th when the project started in 2010, and they are hoping this progress will continue to improve the technological footprint of the state so it can keep up with a very competitive East Coast corridor.

  • Some of the accomplishments of VTel since the 2010 deployment include:
  • Being the first wireless carrier in America that is 100 percent 4G/LTE (News - Alert);
  • The lowest price for Gigabit Fiber in the country;
  • An adoption rate of 83 percent for broadband Internet among its customers, making it one of the highest in the world;
  • Number one download speeds in the state, which is twice that of the next ranked speed, and four times the national average;
  • Delivery of 400 Chromebooks to economically challenged households and first-time Internet users in Vermont in collaboration with Google (News - Alert).
By 2015 the company looks to have GigE billion-bits-per-second Internet over fiber to every VTel farm, home, and office, in all of its 14 rural villages; 4G/LTE mobile wireless broadband statewide, using its 12 Mb of FCC (News - Alert) 700 MHz licenses and 20 Mb of FCC AWS licenses; 100 Gb paths on the company's 1,400 mile four-state fiber network; 500 channel video; and integrate everything with a statewide Smart Grid.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson
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