Vermont Libraries Included in Broadband Grant Award

Good news!

The Department of Libraries is happy to confirm that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration yesterday awarded a $33.4 million grant to deploy a fiber optic network across the state of Vermont. The grant award will go to the Vermont Telecommunications Authority (VTA) as part of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

This project, known as Vermont Fiber Link, is a public-private partnership between the VTA, Sovernet Communications, the Vermont Department of Libraries, the Vermont Department of Education, Vermont State Colleges, Vermont Law School, the Vermont Department of Public Safety, the Vermont Department of Information and Innovation, and the New England Telehealth Consortium.  The network will be built, owned, and operated by Sovernet Communications.

The grant will make possible a new fiber optic backbone greater than 770 miles in length which will benefit Rutland, Bennington, Windham, Windsor, Orange, Washington, and Caledonia Counties. The fiber optic network will also directly serve more than 340 Community Anchor Institutions, including state government offices, schools, colleges, public libraries, health care facilities, and public safety towers.

The project will provide network speeds up to one gigabit per second to institutions, businesses, local broadband service providers, and cellular operators.  This network is being designed to grow into the multi-Terabyte core speeds and will be a great incentive for bringing new business into the state.

“This network will provide major support for the VTA’s efforts to expand broadband and cellular service throughout unserved areas of Vermont,” said VTA Executive Director Christopher Campbell.  “It also breaks new ground by promising to offer Vermont’s community institutions tremendously abundant bandwidth at rates they can afford.”
“This project will make it possible for 53 of our public libraries to have fiber connectivity to meet the growing demand for high-speed internet services for citizens of all ages,” said Vermont State Librarian Martha Reid. “Fiber broadband in libraries will provide the necessary bandwidth to support a wide range of 21st century library services including public computing centers, expanding collections of electronic resources, and high speed access for job seekers, lifelong learners and citizens needing access to e-government.”

The BTOP grant application process was greatly enhanced by the Department of Libraries’ participation in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Opportunity Online Broadband Grant Program. As a participant, the Department received technical and consulting assistance to develop a competitive funding proposal and will receive federally-required matching funds from the Gates Foundation to support the part of this project that brings fiber to public libraries. The Department will also receive assistance to help secure additional E-rate funding to sustain broadband connection costs in the future.

“Federal investments in connecting libraries to high-quality broadband infrastructure are critical to realizing the universal broadband access our country needs, “ said Jill Nishi, deputy director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s U.S. libraries program. “When libraries provide broadband to communities, they can deliver valuable online opportunities that help people find jobs, further their education and access important government information. We hope that this BTOP award will demonstrate to other public and private funders the importance of investing in public technology access at Vermont’s libraries.”

For more information, please contact Martha Reid at the Department of Libraries.

Martha Reid
State Librarian
Vermont Department of Libraries
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609-0601
Tel: (802) 828-3265
Fax: (802) 828-2199