Vermont Villages To Develop Rural Fiber Network

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Claiming LTE wireless can’t deliver broadband as robust, the East Central Vermont Community Fiber Network is planning a pilot project to serve the sparsely populated 23-town region.

By W. David Gardner InformationWeek

Frustrated by the lack of broadband service, citizens in a group of towns in rural Vermont are developing a plan to build their own fiber-based broadband service.

It’s called the East Central Vermont Community (ECVC) Fiber Network and, although it is facing tough odds, the group believes it can succeed where big cash-laden carriers have failed to deliver the service in the 23-town region.

The residents in the thinly populated area where dairy cows outnumbered humans until recently are scraping together $1 million to launch their network as they watch enviously the $116 million award of federal stimulus funds given recently to one carrier. In addition, the ECVC residents still have to deal with a bankrupt FairPoint Communications, which continues to provide telecom services throughout much of the state. Technology is an important issue, too — whether fiber, or DSL or satellite or LTE or a mix of those technologies is the best way to provide broadband service to rural areas.

“We’re looking to build a profitable pilot,” said Tim Nulty, manager of the ECVC project, in an interview. “We want to build it and show people that fiber-to-the-home will work, that it can be done. I’m pretty confident it will work.” If the pilot demonstrates financial feasibility, the plan is to use a successful pilot rollout to produce funding to string 1550 miles of cable to cover the 700 square-mile region. About 55,000 citizens and 22,000 premises are in the sparsely populated region.

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About Mark Milliman

Mark Milliman is a Principal Consultant at Inphotonics Research driving the adoption and assisting local governments to plan, build, operate, and lease access open-access municipal broadband networks. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to increase the value of their intellectual capital through the creation of strategic product plans and execution of innovative marketing strategies. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry that began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Mark has built fiber, cable, and wireless networks around the world to deliver voice, video, and data services. His thorough knowledge of all aspects of service delivery from content creation to the design, operation, and management of the network is utilized by carriers and equipment manufacturers. Mark conceived and developed one of the industry's first multi-service provisioning platform and is multiple patent holder. He is active in the IEEE as a senior member. Mark received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
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