Submitted Photo
Submitted Photo

PUTNEY -- Home-businesses and homeowners along the West Hill Road area have been included in a fiber optic project, which was announced by the Vermont Telecommunications Authority Monday.

VTA said it will use about $1.4 million to help pay for fiber optic projects in six Vermont communities that are currently unable to receive high-speed Internet service.

About 10.5 miles of fiber will be hung along portions of West Hill Road, Tavern Hill Road, Putney Mountain Road, Dusty Ridge Road, Eddie Road, Aiken Road, Leon Wood Road and Banning Road as part of the project, which will eventually include another 51 miles of fiber in Braintree, Brookfield, North Randolph, Pomfret and Sharon.

The Putney project will be led by Southern Vermont Cable, which will invest its own money in the project and pick up customers along the network.

VTA said all of the communities included in this project will get fiber optic Internet access by mid-2015.

"Enhancing broadband opportunities in our small towns continues to be a priority, and making higher-speed options available for small businesses is incredibly important for their ability to compete in a global marketplace," Gov. Peter Shumlin said.

Gov. James Douglas formed the VTA in 2007 to help bring broadband and cell service to every corner of Vermont, and to track down all of the E-911 addresses in the state that did not have access to broadband and cell service.

In 2010 the Legislature funded the Backroads Broadband Program which included money to help the state work with cable and broadband providers to reach those addresses. The projects announced Monday will be funded with the money in the Backroads Broadband Program. mAbout $267,645 in state money will be used to fund the Putney fiber optic project. The state money will pay for the fiber optic line along the roads and Southern Vermont Cable has committed to reaching the home businesses through an agreement with the business owners to purchase Internet service for at least two years.

Southern Vermont Cable will lease the fiber optic lines from the state and then be able to sign up as many customers as it can. In the business districts within the other five communities, EC Fiber will be the anchor tenant.

VTA conducted a statewide survey last year which looked for the businesses that were not able to get high-speed Internet service. VTA staff met with the business owners and then the state established Business Broadband Improvement Districts, which were pockets of businesses in various communities that were eligible for the new service. It was the first time VTA was directly involved in funding a broadband program that delivered service to specific business addresses.

"Fiber optic cable projects represent long-term investments in these rural communities," said VTA Executive Director Christopher Campbell. "The infrastructure can be upgraded easily as electronic technology continues to develop."

VTA is still working on projects in other business districts, including those in Halifax and Wilmington.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.