from power of numbers Department
We’ve written before about the tendency of communities to build their own broadband networks. This is a movement directly generated by decades of anger at the failure of the telecommunications market, poor service and monopolies. But since 2015, Vermont officials have taken things to a whole different level.
In 2015, the State Legislature gave the go-ahead for the creation of Communications Utilities Districts (CUD). CUD is effectively just a coalition of towns and cities with a particular eye on building affordable fiber broadband networks on a large scale. In 2021, the Vermont Legislature passed Act 71, ensuring CUD will play a key role in expanding affordable fiber access.
The decision was perfectly timed. In the seven years since the state first took action, he has over 10 CUDs established or currently in development. And those CUDs will benefit from $300 million out of the $200 million Vermont is expected to receive in broadband funding from the American Relief Plans Act (ARPA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). is in the best position for
Many of these CUDs are considering options for open access fiber networks. This allows multiple ISPs to enter and compete for layers on the same underlying network. A recent Copia report explored this as a major route to boosting mediocre US broadband access.
I recently spoke with Christine Hallquist, executive director of the Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB).
“There are over 400 volunteers working on the board statewide, putting their own sweat, impartiality and brains into this,” she said. “What I am talking about is the board of directors, the representation of CUD and helping CUD succeed. There is a lot of passion here to make this happen.”
Thanks to the CUD model developed by Vermont, there’s a good chance we’ll have affordable fiber for every resident in the state over the next decade. Yet most federal communications policy discussions still treat community his broadband as an odd afterthought.
Traditionally, incumbent monopolies disdain community broadband and go to great lengths to denigrate such efforts, spinning and using bogus claims about how they are socialist boondoggles. I came. With an average of 8 fiber optic runs per mile in Vermont, his ROI on traditional private investments was not very attractive.
Still, broadband incumbents like Comcast have used this historic series of broadband subsidies (more than $50 billion across infrastructure bills and COVID relief) against potential competitors (local governments, cooperatives, and cities). owned utilities, public-private partnerships) in your own pocket. Despite the decades-long history of incumbents squandering government subsidies and abusing government programs.
They definitely don’t want the CUD model to be established in other states, so it’s likely that the lobbying department and/or the hired K Street policy firm will have creative and secretive ways to keep it from being established. I think it takes some effort..will happen. But so far, the CUD movement has proven to be a highly productive, organic, grassroots response to persistent market failure.
Again, solid monopolies like AT&T and Comcast could spark a community broadband movement by offering better, cheaper and faster services. But it’s much easier (and much cheaper) to lobby corrupt state and federal policy makers.
Filed Under: Broadband, Cooperative Districts, Community Broadband, Cooperatives, Fiber Optics, High Speed Internet, Local Governments, Vermont