Southern Vermont Communications Union District Wins $9 Million Broadband Grant

Through its partnership with Fidium Fiber, more than 19,000 Vermont homes will get fiber in 2023.

  • Consolidated Communications

BENNINGTON, Vt.--The Southern Vermont Communications Union District (So VT CUD) recently received approval for its $9 million internet fiber construction grant from the Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB). The grant, along with a $3.3 million investment from Consolidated Communications will cover 6,412 addresses across southern Vermont. The CUD, in partnership with Consolidated Communications, who will build, maintain and operate the network, expects all unserved and underserved residents in 14 towns in the CUD to have access to Fidium Fiber’s multi-gigabit speed internet in 2023 at competitive prices.

"The Vermont Community Broadband Board is pleased with the partnership established with Fidium Fiber and So VT CUD to provide residents in the 14 towns in southwestern Vermont with affordable and reliable high-speed Internet,” said Christine Hallquist, executive director of the Vermont Community Broadband Board. “This is an example of public-private partnerships that will ensure every Vermonter finally has reliable and low-cost connections needed to participate in the digital economy as well as provide public oversight and accountability."

Since 2019, when the Vermont Legislature and Governor enacted Act 71 permitting the creation of CUDs, the So VT CUD’s mission has been to ensure all residents, regardless of location, have access to world-class internet at an affordable price. The partnership with Consolidated will allow the CUD to achieve this mission.

To bring fiber to more households, the company is investing $10.8 million to build more than 13,000 additional addresses not covered by the grant, bringing the total number of homes to 19,000. Consolidated’s construction, operation and maintenance expertise as well as its existing fiber will help deliver the project’s completion swiftly. Service will be delivered by Fidium, Consolidated’s residential fiber brand. A portion of Consolidated’s investment is also supported by the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) program. In other words, private capital, federal support, state investment, and community partnership are all coming together to solve the problem of unserved and underserved homes.

Eric Hatch, Chair of the So VT CUD, spoke of the benefits of this grant which many groups and individuals worked on to win: "In true Vermont fashion, our communities came together to solve a long-standing problem that held back our state from competing in today's marketplace. With access to fiber, all 14 towns in the district will have the infrastructure to retain and attract people to southwest Vermont."

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Southern Vermont CUD to solve the unserved-underserved problem in the next year,” said Erik Garr, President Fidium Fiber at Consolidated. “This is a great example of how a public private partnership with support from the federal, state, and local levels can deliver for citizens very quickly. We have already reached 500 unserved homes this year and can’t wait to do the rest in 2023.”

The So VT CUD currently represents the towns of: Arlington, Bennington, Dorset, Landgrove, Londonderry, Manchester, Peru, Pownal, Rupert, Sandgate, Shaftsbury, Sunderland, Winhall and Woodford.

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