Published in 2021, the Vermont 10-Year Telecommunications Plan, coauthored by Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc. (RIS)  and CTC Technology & Energy (CTC), provides a roadmap for advising public officials about how to remedy gaps in broadband connectivity. In addition to educating stakeholders, it also addresses other communications systems in the state including mobile cellular coverage, public safety, and more.

Research conducted for the plan found that many Vermont residents experience telecommunication gaps in internet access, speed of internet service, and indoor and outdoor mobile voice-and-data services. Of note: 

  • 51,000 Vermont homes have no cable internet or fiber to the home
  • 185,000 homes have internet access, but their connections are not capable of symmetrical, 100 Mbps upload/download service
  • Up to 40% of physical locations and 6,000 miles of roads are unserved with outdoor mobile voice and data — a public safety issue 
  • Approximately 63% of homes lack indoor mobile voice and data

The 10-year plan lays out ambitious goals of extending broadband capable of 100 Mbps symmetrical to all Vermont addresses by 2024. This would facilitate competition between internet service providers and choice for residents, promote local input and oversight, and build telecommunication systems that are resilient, secure, and future-proof — meaning they can be upgraded  to gig-speed symmetrical service to keep pace with increasing demand in years to come.

Plan highlights four core values

Four core values are central to the plan’s recommendations: efficiency, longevity, local control, and equity. Meeting the longevity value places a priority on future-proof infrastructure, while a focus on equity ensures that income, race, and geography shouldn’t present barriers to broadband access. 

To achieve the state’s goals, the roadmap recommends using Communications Union Districts (CUDs) as vehicles for infrastructure deployments. CUDs were established in 2014 to allow multiple towns to join together as a municipal entity and build infrastructure, giving more control to communities over the broadband solutions implemented in their area.

Lastly, the plan explains how Vermont can maximize its investment by addressing affordability, digital skill building, and digital equity, and by including subsidy programs for low-income subscribers to help close the gap. As society becomes increasingly reliant on internet access, rollout speed is of the essence to ensure no Vermonters are left behind.

We can help

Do you have questions about broadband in your community? RISI’s broadband team can help. In addition to state-level studies and initiatives, we have a history of helping rural communities plan fiber broadband networks. From feasibility studies, to business plans, to identifying potential partnerships and funding strategies, our team can help your community navigate multiple stages of the process. Get in touch to learn more!