I have signed on to H.582 and met with the Secretary of Commerce this week to address Connectivity Issues. It is a hard problem. I also congratulated Rep. Peter Welch, whom I also saw this week. He has made Broadband Connectivity one of his main priorities in Congress. We will keep on banging away on the issue.
Read the position of the Rural Economical Development Working Group of which I am a part:
"With the support of Vermont House Speaker Johnson, the Rural Economic Development Working Group hosted a Nov. 7 public hearing in Montpelier and received written and oral testimony from all corners of the state about what legislative priorities were on rural Vermont's mind. The ideas and perspectives offered were wide ranging. The purpose of having the hearing in advance of the session was to identify key priorities for the Rural Economic Development Working Group (REDWnG). One of those key initiatives is to:
Extend high speed internet/broadband to every corner of Vermont. While not universally true, rural Vermont does not have the population density to make it commercially viable for the for-profit telecommunications providers to invest in the infrastructure (fiber optic cables, switching technology, and backhaul services) to bring true high speed internet connectivity to every household and business in Vermont. Some public funding is required to make it happen, and we propose bolstering the Connectivity Initiative to make that happen.
This legislation builds off of other recent policy initiatives like the Communications Union districts and Rural Economic Development Infrastructure districts legislation which we supported last year.
The recently released 2017 Vermont Connectivity Division Annual Report estimates that more than 20K locations do not have even 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps upload speeds or better, and the cost to provide service to those Vermonters will be approximately $33M. To get to the federal standard of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps upload speeds or better, 81K Vermonters access will need to be improved at a cost of approximately $230M.
H.582 proposes to raise the Vermont Universal Service Fee by one-half of one percent generating approximately 1.2M annually for the Connectivity Initiative. These funds will enable municipalities to leverage additional private sector and federal investments.
As more and more services, healthcare, public safety and educational needs rely on access to the internet, Vermont's rural communities and residents are being left behind. H.582 is a modest step in towards improving access."