Monday, May 14, 2007

Vermont legislature approves $40 million bond measure to speed universal broadband access

Blogger Tom Evslin reports Vermont legislation that would make the state the nation's first "e-state" featuring universal broadband and wireless coverage by 2010 is on its way to Gov. Jim Douglas. It defines fixed broadband as a symmetrical (same speed for both uploads and downloads) 3Mbs connection.

The bill encourages both public and private provisioning of service. It includes authorization for up to $40 million in revenue bonds by the State to build infrastructure like radio towers and middle-mile fiber. The State is NOT authorized to become a retail ISP but the plan is to encourage private wireless ISPs (WISPs), wireline ISPs, and cellular operators – as well as municipalities – by making infrastructure broadly available at a reasonable cost even in areas where the short term economics are tough. The bonds need to be repaid out of revenues but this will be “patient” money.

The measure also authorizes local governments to engage in municipal broadband projects. As Evslin states in an earlier post on the legislation, implementation of it could prove more difficult than getting the bill into law. I would agree, considering that $40 million likely represents a small portion of the investment that will be needed to bring universal broadband access to Vermont in just three years.

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