Gov. Peter Shumlin announced today that an innovative collaboration to address much needed wireless service is fully operational in Bethel. Working together, the State of Vermont, the Vermont Telecommunications Authority (VTA), the Town of Bethel, AT&T and FairPoint helped solve a challenge facing GW Plastics, a leading manufacturer of plastic injection molded products. The lack of cell coverage was presenting challenges, and Brenan Riehl, President and CEO of GW Plastics, needed to find a solution.
"Our customers, the majority of which are out-of-state Fortune® 500 companies, insist on real-time communication with their suppliers," said Riehl. "The absence of wireless coverage in Bethel negatively impacted our ability to provide the level of service necessary to satisfy our customers. I appreciate the support of Governor Shumlin, the VTA, the Town of Bethel and AT&T to ensure that GW has the necessary telecommunication infrastructure in place to successfully compete in today's global economy. This is a wonderful example of the public and private sector working closely together to achieve a great outcome."
"Expanding broadband is critical for a strong economy and to ensure that our existing businesses succeed," said Gov. Shumlin. "This collaboration will not only support a key employer, GW Plastics, but also enhance cell coverage in the area."
Lack of cellular coverage was a persistent problem in Bethel. The VTA worked with the Town to identify and construct a mobile Internet cell site on Sand Hill Road at the Town garage. VTA took the lead on permitting and construction of the tower. AT&T leased space on the tower for its equipment to expand its service in the area. AT&T contracted with FairPoint to bring high-capacity fiber optic facilities to the tower, connecting the tower to the rest of AT&T's cellular network.
In addition to serving GW Plastics' needs, this new infrastructure will provide voice and 4G mobile Internet coverage in the area, including along Route 12 and Route 107.
"Expanding the availability of service in Bethel has been a top priority for AT&T, so we're proud that this important site is up and running," said Patricia Jacobs, President of AT&T New England. "Our new site in Bethel is just another example of AT&T's ongoing commitment to Vermont where we have invested more than $50 million in our network in the past two years."
"This project has been a great example of state and local officials working with the telecommunications industry to reach our goals to improve broadband and mobile services," said Christopher Campbell, Executive Director of the VTA. "We want to thank the Town of Bethel, AT&T, and FairPoint for their work to get this new service on-line."
Funding for tower construction came from a state capital budget appropriation.