Google Fiber deal could bring high-speed internet to 43,000 Vermont homes

A map shows which cities have Google Fiber. Two Vermont communities hope to be the next locations on the map. Screenshot from

Two groups of communities in northwestern Vermont are close to reaching an agreement with Google Fiber to bring lightning-fast service to some of the state’s most underserved areas.

“I live in one of those communities, so I totally understand the frustrations over many years of having poor or no connectivity,” said Sean Kio of Enosberg, CEO of Northwest FiberworX (formerly Northwest Communications Union District), which represents around of 29,000 addresses.

Communications union districts are towns that have come together to build communications infrastructure.

Two of Vermont’s newest CUDNorthwest FiberworX (with 21 member communities) and Lamoille FiberNet (with 10 member communities), joined forces last year to build, own and maintain an open access fiber network that can host multiple Internet Service Providers, a first for the condition.

“We’re doing something that’s very different from any of the other communications union districts,” said Val Davis of Johnson, executive director of Lamoille FiberNet, which covers some 14,100 addresses. “We are building an open access network and we will own the network when it is ready.”

Depending on the state, 71,000 addresses You don’t have access to the federal definition of broadband, which is a download speed of 25 megabytes per second and an upload speed of 3 mbps, and that’s just basic broadband. They may have DSL or maybe even dial-up.

Vermont is the first state in the nation to allow municipalities to come together as CUDs to build fiber optic service.

“This is where Vermont is ahead of the game,” said Rob Fish, deputy director of the Vermont Community Broadband Board, established byLaw 71 in 2021. “By adding cities in these communication districts, it made sense for these large providers, who were previously uninterested in Vermont, to talk to us.”

Together, the Northwest and Lamoille CUDs account for just under 43,000 addresses.

Google learned of the partnership and approached the state in September, Davis said. They have been in discussions ever since.

If all goes well, Google could become the network’s first retail Internet service provider, Fish said. “So you’d be talking about good rates, incredibly fast speed, and it would be a publicly owned network where Google could be just one of several providers that are on the network.”

Google Fiber is a high-speed broadband Internet service that uses fiber-optic cables to deliver speeds of up to two gigabits to homes and businesses. Fiber optic cables transmit information using light, allowing speeds much faster than traditional cable, DSL, or dial-up connections. Google Fiber currently serves twenty metropolitan areas in the US

“We hope that this project will become an example for many other communities that need fast and reliable Internet,” David Finn, director of corporate development for Google Fiber, said in a March 9 press release.

Kio, who previously worked at Burlington Telecom, said the Northwest and Lamoille CUDs have come a long way in recent months and “hopefully they will come to an end in terms of our negotiations here over the next two weeks.”

The process involves a lot of back and forth, but Davis said he hopes to have a signed agreement with Google by the end of June.

If all goes according to plan, construction could begin by the end of this year and around 42,900 households could start seeing new service continuously within the next 36 months.

Regulated by state law, the CUDs have already purchased their first lots of fiber (150 miles for Lamoille FiberNet and 130 miles for Northwest FiberworX) and issued separate requests for proposals for design, construction and project management.

At least five or six companies have expressed interest, Davis said, and the CUDs hope to choose a vendor by June 9.

“We’re dancing as fast as we can,” he said. “But this is not a small company. The only thing we’ve had in the past that we can compare this to is the electrification of the United States in the 1920s and 1930s, when they were building the grid. It is a big task and it will be done, but it will take some time.”

“We saw from the beginning that this is an opportunity for us to do something extraordinary,” Kio said. “If we are successful, and we hope and believe we are going to be, this has the potential to be a game changer for rural broadband around the world and could probably serve as a model for other parts of the country. also.”

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