Broadband Funding Options
The ERC is delighted to announce that Duxbury Road will have fiber this year thanks to one of the grant options available from the Federal government due to COVID-19. This funding was recently made available to the state of Vermont who is working diligently to help as many people as possible based on the restrictions of the funding. One major limitation is that all projects must be completed by December 31, 2020 and it is late August already.
Another element of the funding requires those receiving enhanced service have a Covid-19 based issue such as distance learning, telemedicine, or remote work. The state priorities are first to address those who have NO or very poor access, that is anyone who has less than 25/3 service. There is a map the state has developed and Joe Grossman, added our survey results to show the various service levels as of 2019. On this map you will see purple dots for those who responded to the ERC surveys. The other dots indicate the level of service and you can click on any of the dots to learn more about that location.
- Red – no service at all
- Orange – 4/1 this is the lowest level of service
- Yellow – 10/1 this is the next lowest level of service
- Green – 25/3 – this is considered high speed
- Blue – this is fiber and has the highest option of service available
- Purple – folks who filled out the ERC surveys
Map of service level and survey results: https://vhb.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=9c2da16097f54ef89d925dee0bbb80d2
If you click on any of the dots you can see the address and level of service. You can zoom in to see more details or out to see the big picture. Zooming out demonstrates the challenges of the whole state, but we will stay focused on Bolton. We have grouped areas of town using a red line to indicate the 8 areas of town with responses to our surveys. We are contacting each of these 8 groups via email to provide more information about the remaining funding options for enhanced internet service.
As of today, 3 grant options are under way in Bolton
Option 1 – Fiber – Duxbury road will be getting fiber before the end of the year from Waitsfield Telecom.
Option 2 – Line Extensions – this is also fiber, but it requires the location to be pretty close to existing fiber.
Option 3 – Wireless – some areas of town are not close to fiber and one provider has received funding to upgrade their tower to offer service to specific addresses (we do not know yet the addresses, but hope to find out in the next few weeks).
Before explaining how to apply for Option 2 or 3, we want to be very clear that there will likely be additional Federal funding coming that could benefit other roads like Duxbury road, but there are no guarantees that will happen or when it could happen.
Option 1: Fiber from Waitsfield
This will be the only grant like this for Bolton for this round of funding as Waitsfield Telecom must complete it prior to the end of the year. This project will include adding fiber at the road, but also to the houses of folks who filled out our survey. The grant was based on specific locations and when you look at the map you can see that this area of town is very underserved with 4/1 service. That makes this area a top priority for the state and is one of the reasons this road was funded.
Option 2: $3000 Line Extensions also Fiber from Waitsfield Telecom
This approach is much more complex and requires some effort on your part as well as Waitsfield Telecom. In some ways this seems a bit random, but the logic is that this option is best for people who are close to existing fiber. A good example is Bolton Valley Access Road. We know there is fiber that runs up the road. So this grant would enable someone who is close to the road to apply for this funding. Let me explain a bit how this works.
- Step 1 – is there fiber near you? Look at the map below to see if there are any blue dots near you
- Step 2 – click this link to see if this is within your budget (more on this below)
- Step 3 – fill out this PDF application – (link to pdf file)
- Step 4 – see if your neighbors are interested in this as a group is more powerful than one application
- Step 5 – agree on a team leader with your neighbors who will be the point of contact for Waitsfield and the state
- Step 6 – submit all the applications together to Waitsfield by the team leader
- Step 7 – once Waitsfield provides the estimate, the team leader will need to submit the estimate and all the applications to the state for approval of funding
Let’s talk a bit more about Step 1. We know there is fiber on Notch road and that Bolton Valley Resort has fiber. So we can make a few assumptions on these 2 facts. If you live near either of these roads, it might be possible to get fiber to your house with this type of grant – especially if you apply as a group. Mountainview is off of the Notch road. The distance is roughly a half mile to serve this road.
Now we are on to Step 2. Go to this link – https://jscalc.io/calc/Z9n1nal1nku3VNP4 and see what the estimate would be in our example. The state is using $30,000 per mile as the base calculation. Enter in 1 for the number of subscribers and .5 for the distance and $15,000 for the cost (based on half a mile). The result is $13,125 for one subscriber. If you up that to 6 the cost goes down to $625.
You can see there is a significant cost difference between 1 and 6 subscribers and that is why applying as a group is so beneficial to everyone. Also keep in mind that this estimate is based on many assumptions so it is critical that Waitsfield Telecom actually provide their estimate as they know the variables that must be taken into consideration for the full cost. You must also realize that there are only so many hours between now and December 31, 2020, so while this looks like a great opportunity, Waitsfield Telecom must be able to complete the project, yet another variable in this option.
Please note that this estimating tool does NOT include the $3000 grant. So IF Waitsfield Telecom has the resources to be able to complete this work by the end of the year, there might not be any cost to this group based on the short distance and number of users involved, but you will not know any of this for sure until all the applications are submitted as a group to Waitsfield Telecom. This process is now taking about a week to complete. We have no timeline from the state once the applications are submitted there.
Option 3 – Wireless Service
This was a new option that we only learned about on Friday. There is a wireless provider who was given a grant to upgrade their tower to be able to offer their service to locations in Bolton where fiber is not close to these folks, but would be able to access the tower from their location. We do not have any details on this specific service yet, but as we learn more we will update this section of the page.
Now if you are still reading and would like to have some help, we are hosting a GoToMeeting session on Sunday August 23 at 5pm and we will do our best to help.
Broadband in Bolton
Sun, Aug 23, 2020 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM (EDT)
Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (646) 749-3122
Access Code: 467-086-469
New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts: https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/467086469