Doubling down: Lamoille towns invest in fiber broadband with Lamoille FiberNet to leverage VCBB match
Six Lamoille County towns want to take advantage of the Vermont Community Broadband Board’s matching grant program which doubles the funds towns invest in high-speed broadband infrastructure.
Selectboards in Belvidere, Cambridge, Eden, Johnson, Waterville and Wolcott voted to commit portions of their local ARPA funds to help their residents and businesses gain access to broadband through the VCBB match program. Together the six communities have pledged just over $200,000, or $400,000 when matched. Hyde Park is also considering a pledge.
Reliable affordable broadband access is a well-known challenge in Lamoille County. Communications Union Districts (CUDs) like Lamoille FiberNet were created to create community-based solutions to address the broadband issues.
In 2022, the Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB) created a grant program that allows towns to double ARPA funds designated for broadband development. Under this program, the town can contribute up to $100,000 to their local CUD’s construction of broadband networks, and the VCBB will match the donation, dollar for dollar. Lamoille County towns received more than $7.5 million in federal pandemic funds from ARPA (the federal American Rescue Plan Act).
The rules of the program are simple: the town and VCBB money must be spent in the contributing town on broadband development, and the VCBB portion of the money must be spent in compliance with Act 71 (serving locations mapped as “under- or un-served”). Underserved areas are those where the current internet service is less than 25/3 Mbps (download/upload speeds), while unserved areas have no internet available at all. ARPA funds must be spent by December 2026; LFCUD expects to begin its network construction in 2024.
Although construction is not expected to begin until 2024, Lamoille FiberNet must submit the local match commitments to the VCBB by May 31,2023. An answer is expected by the end of June.
LFCUD recognizes that towns have many uses for their ARPA funds, and we appreciate these commitments!
Lamoille FiberNet CUD member towns include Belvidere, Cambridge, Eden, Elmore, Hyde Park, Johnson, Morristown, Stowe, Waterville, and Wolcott. Our mission is to prioritize access to unserved and underserved addresses to symmetrical, high speed, and affordable internet service — as soon as possible.
Visit www.lamoillefiber.net for more information.