Gov. Peter Shumlin and Karen Marshall, Chief of Connect Vermont, today announced the extension of broadband service to 4000 potential customers in north central Vermont fromCloud Alliance. A funding partnership between Cloud Alliance, the Vermont Telecommunications Authority and Central Vermont Economic Development Corporation made the build-out of four new tower sites in the network possible. The project provides for new service to homes and businesses in Woodbury, Hardwick and Wolcott and parts of Elmore, Greensboro, Walden and Cabot. The project also improves the quality and speed of broadband service in Plainfield, Marshfield, East Montpelier and Calais--towns already served by Cloud Alliance.
Cloud Alliance undertook a $500,000 effort, which included a VTA Broadband Grant, and has completed the tower build, equipment installation, and is now rolling out service to consumers and businesses.
Cloud Alliance is one of six wireless Internet service providers in the state. Connect VT, the Governor's broadband and cellular initiative, and the Vermont Telecommunications Authority are focusing state resources on remaining unserved and underserved locations, and has the overall goal of ensuring access to broadband and vastly expanded cellular service throughout the state.
"We're turning on high speed broadband service today to more residents and businesses in rural Vermont. Connecting Vermonters and their communities with the globe is one of my highest priorities because it fosters opportunity and prosperity. The Cloud Alliance project is a solid example of how leading edge wireless technology and fiber deep into communities work together to bring higher speed broadband service to Vermonters." said Governor Shumlin.
"Seven years ago, our company was born when a few friends and neighbors gathered in living rooms to bring high-speed Internet to the back roads of central Vermont. Today, we're introducing the latest 4G WiMAX technology, with broadband speeds of up to a combined 8 Mbps for home use and 20+ Mbps for businesses," said Michael Birnbaum, general manager of Cloud Alliance. "Because we are part of the community, it has been important to keep quality and reliability high, and subscription costs low enough--starting at $29.95/month--that most Vermonters can afford this essential utility."
Theimprovements and expansions were funded through a $240,000 VTA investment for building and equipping three of Cloud Alliance's four new towers--in Hardwick, Woodbury and Wolcott. VTA investment was made possible by state capital appropriations, and the majority of this funding came from the Fiscal Year 2010 capital appropriation to the VTA. Eighty thousand dollars in grants from the U. S. Department of Agriculture to CVEDC enabled loans for the tower site in Plainfield. As telecommunications infrastructure continues to be built, towers within the Cloud Alliance network will make use of optical fiber connections from the Vermont Fiber Connect Project, funded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Sovernet and the VTA to interconnect tower sites and connect the local network to the Internet. Cloud Alliance was able to obtain a single permit for all four towers through a Certificate of Public Good from the Public Service Board under the "Section 248a" process for telecommunications facilities.
"This project demonstrates how the combination of state, federal, and private funding for last-mile broadband infrastructure and supporting middle-mile fiber infrastructure is making a difference in our rural communities," said VTA Executive Director Christopher Campbell.
"This is one of a dozen projects currently underway to extend broadband to Vermonters and improve our cellular networks. Efforts to install fiber, permit and build wireless installations, and make last mile connections are underway across the state, with our providers' construction crews hard at work. We congratulate Cloud Alliance, a small Vermont company with deep community roots, as they launch service with leading-edge, fixed-wireless technology," said Karen Marshall.
Marshall said she is also currently working with target communities, the VTA and telecommunications providers around the state, to put the remaining solutions in place that will provide broadband service by the end of 2013. The next target community tour that engages citizens to verify unserved addresses isscheduled for June 26, 5:30 PM in Wilmington.
Vermonters are encouraged to visit www.broadbandvt.org for up-to-date broadband and cellular service expansion information and, if they are stillunserved, to register their unserved addresses. The site is designed to help Connect Vermont capture all addresses that lack access to high speed Internet service.
Potential subscribers in the Cloud Alliance service areas are also encouraged to register their interest at www.cloudalliance.com.