Draft of Vermont broadband plan criticized at first hearing

Local News

MONTPELIER, Vt. – The final draft of a plan to expand broadband access in Vermont got panned at it’s first unveiling Tuesday.

At the first in a series of public hearings on the state’s 2018 Telecommunications Plan, critics said the plan falls short of expectations.

“This plan does not appear to move Vermont ahead in a way that enables it to compete effectively,” said state Sen. Mark MacDonald (D- Orange). “It doesn’t seem to be moving forward at the pace we’re capable of.”

The 10-year plan is a blueprint for providing “stable and predictable rates and technologically advanced telecommunications networks” to every Vermont resident.

It recommends that the state identify a source of revenue to expand broadband access and consider incentives for providers to deliver service to more rural customers. The plan also recommends the state “explore appropriate rules and policies for protecting internet service subscribers.”

Clay Purvis, director of telecommunications and connectivity for the Department of Public Service, said the plan recommends changes to how the state calculates pole-attachment fees and ways to reduce delays and disputes between pole owners and providers.

“Also,” Pervis said, “there are some recommendations for how state government can streamline the siting of wireless facilities.”

But Stephen Whitaker, a Montpelier resident, said there’s less in the draft than meets the eye.

“There is no plan at all here,” he said. “There is some new background information from the 2014 version, but there’s no plan there. There is no objective to reach the statutory goals.”

Hearings on the 2018 Telecommunications Plan continue at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Catamount Arts Centerin St. Johnsbury.

Here are the dates and locations of future hearings:

  • Rutland: December 17, 6 p.m. at the Rutland Free Library, 10 Court Street;
  • Brattleboro: December 19, 6 p.m. at the Brooks Memorial Library, 224 Main Street;
  • Burlington: December 20, 2 p.m. at Zampieri State Office Building, 108 Cherry Street;
  • Montpelier: December 21, 1 p.m. at the Vermont State House, Room 11, 115 State Street;

Click here to view the full report or visit the Department of Public Service.

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