Some areas of Wilmington still in need of broadband


WILMINGTON -- Selectboard member Susie Haughwout says efforts to get broadband served to all areas of town have not been forgotten.

"And it's still moving forward," she said.

Currently, VTel Wireless is at work setting up two sites that will serve homes on Parsons Road. Wireless equipment will be set up on a pre-existing tower in Whitingham while a new tower is being constructed on Hogback Mountain.

The efforts are part of the company's Wireless Open World Network Project to expand broadband service to reach underserved and unserved areas. The project was created in order to fund the building of new wireless capacity for broadband to homes and businesses on roads in need of it.

According to Robert Meyers, customer outreach for VTel Wireless, the company is launching its network in geographic clusters. Broadband subscription services will depend on specific addresses but he said the Whitingham site is dependent on the Hogback Mountain site.

"Once both sites are complete, we'll be able to start service," said Meyers. "It's going to require Hogback construction to be complete before offering service off both sites."

VTel received a construction permit for the Hogback Mountain tower in late January or early February. Construction is expected to be completed by early September.

As part of a grant, the Vermont Telecommunications Authority is in the process of looking for Internet service providers to bring broadband service to areas near Higley Hill, Brown, Haynes, Warnock and Old Town roads.

Although it won't be considered an official business district recognized by the town, the VTA will designate the area as one of its Business Broadband Improvement Districts. That region was named as a special business district because there were enough people in need of the service in order to improve their business ventures.

"There are a lot of business owners up there. Several work from home," said Wilmington Economic Development Consultant Gretchen Havreluk.

A request for information, or RFI, was issued for this project. The closing date for the RFI is April 28. Havreluk believed it would take a couple weeks to award the bid then installation would begin shortly after.

Within the same grant, more wifi zones will be added throughout the center of town. The contract was awarded to the Vermont Digital Economy, the organization that had put in the first three wifi zones.

There will be wifi zones installed at the Greens Service Center, Memorial Hall, Old Red Mill and the Vermont Bowl Company.

As part of ongoing economic development efforts, Havreluk has begun to look at creating a communications committee. It will focus primarily on Dover and Wilmington's new fiber optics as well as addressing cell service coverage and broadband issues.

One idea included having a business center where second homeowners can work from behind a desk and use certain technology available in the facility such as a scanner.

Anyone who is interested in joining the committee can contact Havreluk at 802-464-8591 ext. 117.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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