Vermont

The Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB), which administers broadband funding programs for the state, has made a video to document its broadband deployment efforts. The full 35-minute-long video has been shown locally and a highlights version is available on YouTube.

The video is worth watching for any rural broadband stakeholder and creating a similar video might be a useful endeavor for other states.

“It documents an historic time in Vermont in the evolution of broadband connectivity, similar in importance and scope to when Vermont first got electricity,” described VCBB Executive Director Christine Hallquist in a prepared statement about the video.

“This film chronicles the work of making fiber optic internet available to all Vermonters. It provides a roadmap for other communities and states that are struggling the way Vermont did and tells a compelling and relatable human-interest story.”

In the Vermont broadband video, titled “Connected: Vermont’s Grassroots Effort for Rural Broadband,” Vermont Sen. Peter Welch explained, “If we in rural Vermont were going to depend on the telecom companies to get us internet, we would be waiting until our grandchildren had grandchildren.”

Steven John, DV Fiber chairman, gave an example of the town of Marlboro, which is 90% to 95% unserved. In many areas, the only option for internet access was using a dial-up modem.

The VCBB’s broadband plan for bringing broadband to the entire state was modeled after how the state had implemented electricity, noted Norwich resident Stan Williams.

The video also discusses the geographical challenges, including mountains and rivers, that made providing rural broadband especially challenging in Vermont. From a farmer, to a parent helping manage her children’s educational needs, to a remotely working professional and others, the video shares the experiences of people in Vermont whose lives have been changed because of broadband.

Connected portrays how Vermont residents used a community-based solution, called Communications Union Districts (CUDs). These are organizations of two or more towns that joined as municipal entities for the purpose of building communications infrastructure together. They started with ECFiber in east-central Vermont in 2008. ECFiber was then followed by the formation of nine additional CUDs.

The Connected video features the perspectives of these leaders, highlighting some of the challenges they have faced along the way. Currently, Vermont has 10 CUDs, covering 216 towns, more than 76% of the state’s population and 93% of the underserved homes and businesses. Six out of 10 CUDs are now actively connecting previously underserved homes.

Other Vermont broadband CUDs include DV FIber, NEK Broadband and more.

The documentary film has been accepted into the Made Here Film Festival, New England’s only competitive film festival devoted only to films made by filmmakers in New England and Quebec, said Herryn Herzog, communications and outreach manager at VCBB.

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