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Innovative model brings fiber to rural Vermont

I recently moved even farther out in the sticks of rural Massachusetts. We're far enough out that DSL service to the area preceded our arrival by about 2 weeks.
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Written by Christopher Dawson on

I recently moved even farther out in the sticks of rural Massachusetts. We're far enough out that DSL service to the area preceded our arrival by about 2 weeks. When we had DSL installed, the tech pointed out that I should actually be getting close to 3.5MBps since fiber had recently been run to a junction box just down the road. Since I was only about 300 feet from a fiber termination, I asked what I thought was a reasonable question: "So when can I get FiOS?"

The DirecTV tech who was installing my satellite dish nearby started giggling and even the Verizon tech had a good chuckle. No fiber to the home out my way just yet, it seems, despite penetration of fiber runs into the area.

Yet 24 towns in rural Vermont are getting fiber to the home (FTTH) as part of a non-profit, publicly-funded venture called East Central Vermont Community Fiber Network. This network in intended to not only provide broadband to underserved communities (many of the homes in these towns have only dial-up access with only a small percentage even reaching 56K), but also to build an infrastructure to support future growth.

According to the group,

Compared to fiber, copper technology is obsolete. Fiber is the fastest known technology, using light as its transmission medium and one of the world's most stable materials, glass. The fastest available equipment connecting to it does not come close to tapping its potential. As faster equipment becomes available, upgrades are relatively simple.

This infrastructure would benefit local businesses and schools as well as home users and make hundreds of channels of television available for local groups to broadcast over the network (i.e., mass public access).

Is this an actual sustainable model of publicly-funded infrastructure that benefits communities directly? The final outcome remains to be seen, but it appears that we may not have to wait for the telcos to bring us the sort of bandwidth we need to support education, business, and communications in the years to come.

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