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Vermont vows statewide broadband in 2 years

Mon, 12/12/2011 - 2:05pm
The Associated Press

Gov. Peter Shumlin promised Friday that every Vermonter will have access to broadband computer services in their homes and businesses by the end of 2013.

Shumlin made the promise at the Sugarbush ski resort in Warren, where he joined resort officials and Verizon Wireless in announcing that a new cell tower is now providing voice and data service to guests at the resort.

Expanding high-speed Internet access to the nooks and crannies of Vermont has been a goal of state government for years, but Shumlin said his administration would accomplish the goal.

"By December 31, 2013, we're going to deliver on that promise. And that's going to be great for jobs and economic opportunity in Vermont," Shumlin said. "You've heard it before, but not from me, not from this governor. We're going to keep our promise."

In 2007, former Gov. Jim Douglas proposed making Vermont the state's first "e-state,” with universal cellular and broadband coverage statewide in 2010. But the challenge of expanding broadband and cell access in a rural state like Vermont has made those earlier goals difficult to reach.

Shumlin said the state has created a public-private partnership with telecommunications providers and utilities, and legislation has been passed to make it easier to install cell towers. He said cellular telephone service will be improved, but not up to 100 percent coverage by 2013.

Last week, the Vermont Telecommunications Authority, the state agency responsible for expanding cellular and broadband Internet service in the state, announced that two companies have been chosen to help fill the gaps in cell phone coverage.

In some areas, the plan is to use micro-cell antennas that can be installed on the top of utility poles.

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