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Fidium Fiber broadband coming to Lamoille County in 2024!

Lamoille Fibernet Communications Union District is teaming up with Fidium Fiber to bring high-speed broadband to more than 4,000 unserved and underserved addresses in Lamoille County this year. The 2024 construction project is funded by a Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB) grant using federal funds, and by Consolidated Communications Inc., the company that brings us Fidium.  The VCBB grant contains numerous commitments and constraints. Of course, any construction project also has practical considerations.  This article clarifies several important details, so you know what to expect in the coming year.

  1. Project requirements & scope (what will be built and where)

While we are building in all 10 towns to more than 4,000 addresses in 2024, we are not building to all Lamoille County addresses. Our mission as a CUD is to ensure that all on-grid addresses have access to wired broadband. Because the majority of Lamoille has broadband service, Lamoille FiberNet’s responsibility is filling the gap — reaching those addresses that are unserved or underserved. When we finish our two-phase build, Lamoille County will have universal service,  

“On-grid” means the address is connected to the electric grid provided by your municipal electric department. Unserved or underserved or “U/U” addresses are those with wired Internet speed of less than 25 Megabits down/3 Megabits up, or only wireless connection of any speed — these U/U addresses are identified and tracked by the State of Vermont. The grant funding also allows Fidium to serve “incidental passings” — meaning “already served” addresses that are enroute — or passed by — the new fiber network. This means that in some areas, residents and businesses that have access to cable modem service or high-speed DSL will have a new competitive option. And finally, the “service area” includes all of Belvidere, Cambridge, Eden, Johnson, Hyde Park, Morrisville, Stowe and Waterville. It also includes 90% of Elmore, except east Elmore, and the portion of Wolcott closest to Lake Elmore. See the map at page 2 of the Annual Report: https://lamoillefiber.net/document/2023-annual-report.

With this current level of funding, Lamoille Fibernet plans to reach 85% of the unserved and underserved (U/U) addresses in the service area by the end of 2024. More specifically, the 2024 construction plan includes all U/U addresses (and the incidental passings) in Belvidere, Eden, Elmore, Johnson, Waterville and Wolcott. It also includes all of Hyde Park except the northeast corner above Green River Reservoir, and all of Morrisville, except a few addresses on Rte. 15 on the Wolcott border. The plan also includes roughly 65% of the U/U addresses in Cambridge except Smuggler’s View, Pleasant Valley, and Westman Hill Rd. In Stowe, the plan will build most of Stowe, including Nebraska Valley, Sterling Valley, Stowe Hollow, North Hill, West Hill and Tamarack, Stagecoach Road and its spurs, but it will not be able to complete Barnes Hill, Edson Hill, Luce Hill and a few other small areas.

Because universal service is the ultimate objective, the goal is to reach the rest of the un/underserved parts of Stowe, Cambridge, North Hyde Park and Morrisville in Phase II (2025 to 2026). One of the 2024 priorities will be to design and secure funding for these remaining addresses, with a completion date of 2025. For a high-level depiction of Phase I and II, check out the map at page 6 of the annual report: https://lamoillefiber.net/document/2023-annual-report.

Please note, this is the grant-funded build, designed to reach unserved and underserved. It is expected that Consolidated and other local providers will continue to invest in the more densely populated villages and commercial areas such as resorts. Also, in early 2024, Fidium plans to announce other areas it will serve completely at its own cost, including some areas already served by other carriers.

2. Construction Constraints — Distribution versus Drop, Aerial versus Underground

Another important thing to keep in mind is that the VCBB funding is principally for the distribution network — to bring service up the road to the “drop pole” or pedestal, typically at the end of your driveway or entrance to your homeowners’ association or development. Construction to your home or business from this distribution point is called a “drop” and will happen only if you request it. Please see “drops” in item 3 below.

Two things to keep in mind with network construction — the network typically follows the pole line — mostly in the public right of way, but also, and especially in rural areas, across fields and through the woods on private property. In these instances, rights of access (easements) may need to be obtained from Homeowners Associations (HOAs) or from adjoining property owners. While Consolidated has many existing easements and pole attachment and conduit rights, a certain amount of local permitting and coordination with HOAs and private property owners will be necessary, especially for the underground portions of the project. The good news is that the budget includes underground construction necessary to reach the Phase I addresses. Lamoille FiberNet and Fidium will work with road commissioners and utility partners as well as HOAs to plan for and minimize disruptions.

3. Drops — Getting service from the network to your home or business

As mentioned above, a “drop” is the connection from the roadway pole or pedestal to your premises. The Fidium/Lamoille partnership provides a very generous drop policy — one of the most generous drop policies in the fiber industry. In this policy, Fidium will not charge for above ground (i.e., aerial) drops on existing poles or for up to 500 feet of new underground fiber. If you need more than 500 feet underground but have an existing usable telephone line conduit, Fidium will make longer underground runs, subject to limits based on specific conditions. Although new underground conduit of more than 500 feet will be the property owner’s sole responsibility, Fidium will run the fiber line in the conduit at no cost once your conduit is in place.

Our Construction Manager Fabian Bourgeois will have more news on managing underground drops and nonstandard installations as the plan gets nearer to the actual construction season. Lamoille FiberNet will keep the public posted.

When will this all happen?

The contract and grant funding for Phase I of the Lamoille FiberNet/Fidium broadband network were completed in late 2023. Between now and spring of 2024, the team will review poles and lines, get permits, and finalize the network’s detailed design. Since addresses will be served as construction progresses, Lamoille FiberNet will update each town as construction plans are finalized and will also post the schedule on the website. To stay updated on the progress, sign up for Lamoille FiberNet’s mailing list.

Are you on the list?

To find out if your address will be in Phase 1, please email Lamoille FiberNet’s construction manager, Fabian Bourgeois, at fbourgeois@lamoillefiber.net. Remember, Lamoille FiberNet and Consolidated won’t know exactly when your address or road will be built until designs are finalized.

If you are not on the list

If you are not part of Phase I but you are interested in Fidium’s services, you should still pre-order and encourage your neighbors to also pre-order. Pre-ordering provides an expression of interest that Fidium can take into account in its service planning, and it involves no commitment to you. When Fidium extends beyond the area served by this partnership, your level of interest could help them determine where to provide service. To pre-order:

  1. Go to: fidiumfiber.com and enter your address in the box titled “Check your address for service availability.”  If your address does not show up, it may be due to an incomplete database. Contact fbourgeois@lamoillefiber.net.

Speed and cost of the new service

You can see Fidium’s product and price information by finding your town in the Vermont section of this page: Fast, Reliable Fiber Internet Service Locations | Fidium Fiber.

Any questions? 

For other questions, feel free to email the Lamoille FiberNet office at: info@lamoillefiber.net or visit the website: lamoillefiber.net.

Image of earth with a stream of fiber optics shooting past.

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