Public Private Partnership Project Will Accelerate Fiber-Optic Broadband Build To Some Rural Addison County Communities
Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB) recently approved a $9.1 million grant to Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom (WCVT), in partnership with Maple Broadband, to expand fiber-optic broadband in parts of Addison, Bridport, Ferrisburgh, New Haven, Panton, Waltham, and Weybridge. The source of the grant funding is the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
This project will extend WCVT’s fiber-to-the-home network to approximately 2,000 additional customers in parts of Addison County in the Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom service area. The network is capable of delivering broadband speeds of up to 1 Gigabyte.
In August 2021, Maple Broadband and WCVT entered into a public private partnership to bring high-speed fiber-optic services to unserved and underserved residents in Maple Broadband’s twenty member towns, some of which overlap with WCVT’s existing service area.
In terms of the partnership, WCVT will extend its fiber-optic network to customers in its service area, and Maple Broadband will build a fiber-to-the-home network across the rest of the twenty towns.
WCVT will operate the Maple Broadband network, bringing its track record of service excellence to Maple Broadband customers. This arrangement will decrease the cost and accelerate the speed of broadband availability as both entities will build concurrently.
The first phase of the newly funded project began in spring of 2022. Engineering, design, and preliminary field work are currently in progress. The next phase of this project is the permitting, make ready and material procurement to allow construction to begin as soon as the weather allows in the spring of 2023. Customer cutovers will follow later that year.
Says Eric Haskin, president and CEO of WCVT, “This grant money will go a long way to accelerate building our fiber-optic network to additional customers in parts of our Addison County service area. We are appreciative of the opportunity to work with Maple Broadband and grateful to the VCBB which helped us secure this grant funding to continue the evolution of our network and get more of our customers converted to fiber-optics. This grant will definitely help bend the high cost associated with building broadband to some of our most rural communities and customers.”
“We are excited to start bringing services to our member areas in Addison County and are confident that this partnership with WCVT will help us to roll out fiber faster at a price that benefits residents in the area. We’d like to thank the VCBB for the opportunity to bring the benefits of high-speed broadband to our underserved and unserved residents and look forward to working with WCVT to roll this out,” says Steve Huffaker, Chair of Maple Broadband.
“WCVT has been a great partner in terms of getting Vermonters connected to fiber-optic broadband. The Maple Broadband relationship with WCVT is an example of the public-private partnerships that will result in every Vermonter getting the opportunity to connect to reliable high-speed Internet. The VCBB is excited about the forward progress that Vermont is making in terms of Universal Service. This progress is made possible by the partnerships like this one,” added Christine Hallquist, Executive Director of the Vermont Community Broadband Board.
Maple Broadband broke ground on its fiber optic network on October 3rd, following on its recent award of $8.7 million to cover the first phase of fiber-optic broadband rollout to portions of Cornwall, Leicester, Middlebury, Orwell, Salisbury, Shoreham, and Whiting over the next 12 months. Service launch is expected in the initial areas in early 2023.
About Maple Broadband:
Maple Broadband is a Communications Union District (CUD) based in Addison County. Maple Broadband’s mission is to enhance the economic, educational, and medical well-being of the communities it serves by providing a reliable and affordable high-speed fiber internet network, supported by premium-grade customer service, to the households and businesses in its member towns. CUDs are non-profit, municipal entities formed with the single goal of delivering high-speed fiber broadband service to every unserved and underserved address in their member towns. CUDs cannot tax their member towns or the residents of those towns. A CUD must fund its operations by grants, debt, and donations.
About Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom:
Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom is a third generation, family-owned telephone company serving the Mad River and central Champlain Valley regions of Vermont and has been providing telephone service to the Mad River Valley since 1904. As a locally owned Vermont company, WCVT is committed to its local communities, and recognizes the extreme value in deploying the most advanced communications services to ensure its rural communities are connected to their urban counterparts with similar quality service. WCVT makes significant capital investment in its network on an annual basis, continuing its network evolution in bringing higher broadband speeds and greater reliability to a larger number of our extremely rural and high-cost locations in our service area. As a 118-year-old, family owned, local Vermont Company, WCVT is uniquely positioned to bring a 100% gigabyte capable fiber-optic network to Vermont’s rural communities.
Source: Addison County, Vermont − Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom 10.18.2022.