For Rural Internet Access, A Venn Diagram of Doom

Voices / Legislative Update by Laura Sibilia, House Committee on Energy and Technology

We must ensure that our regulations support reliable, affordable, essential communications infrastructure availability.

Laura H. Sibilia, an independent, represents the Windham-Bennington District (Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, and Whitingham) in the state House of Representatives.

By the 1930s, “nearly 90 percent of U.S. urban dwellers had electricity, but 90 percent of rural homes were without power,” according to University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives Research on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives.

“Investor-owned utilities often denied service to rural areas, citing high development costs and low profit margins. Consequently, even when they could purchase electricity, rural consumers paid far higher prices than urban consumers.”

Vermont has state-of-the-art communication technologies. We have cell service throughout much of our state and wireless internet solutions in areas where the topography works. We have middle-mile fiber, cable, and DSL that all connects residents and businesses to the global economy, to their doctors and to public safety and even provides phone service through VOIP (voice-over-internet protocols).

Modern life is possible in much of Vermont. Still, it’s no secret that access to wired and wireless phone and internet is unevenly available in the Green Mountain state.

What may not be as widely known is that in some of the most rural parts of Vermont, this situation is not static — it’s deteriorating.

We have a negative relationship of conditions — a Venn Diagram of Doom, if you will.

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