Monday, March 14, 2016

Vermont regional telecom district accesses institutional bond funding for expansion

ECFiber's growth plans could double service area | Vermont Business Magazine: ECFiber, based in Royalton and now officially known as the East Central Vermont Telecommunications District, announced plans to activate 110 miles of network in 2016 and build an additional 250 miles in 2017. “Working with bond underwriters, we believe ECFiber has reached the point in its financial development that allows us to access institutional capital markets for the first time in 2016,” says Irv Thomae, District Chairman. “Since 2011, we have relied on 450 local investors, some state-provided dark fiber, and VTA and Connectivity Fund grants to build the first 340 miles of network. By the end of 2016 we will be in parts of 21 of our 24 member towns, but many neighborhoods that desperately need ECFiber service cannot afford to raise the $30,000 per mile to complete a build. Outside financing would finally allow us to build to those towns that need us the most, not just those where we can raise capital.”

Regional telecom fiber modernization projects such as the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency and WiredWest in western Massachusetts have hit obstacles obtaining sufficient capitalization to expand. Due to the high cost of infrastructure projects, access to capital finance markets is critical given limited funding available from local governments and property owners.

According to this story by Vermont Business Magazine, the East Central Vermont Telecommunications District is accessing the institutional bond market for the first time for needed expansion capital, a development that bears watching since it demonstrates the bond markets' receptiveness to working with projects sponsored by utility districts.

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