BRATTLEBORO — In March 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, my youngest son moved back home to complete his last few months of senior year at Tufts University. He needed to use the internet daily for seven weeks so that he could complete his bachelor’s degree remotely from town.
At the same time, one of my jobs ended, and the other job became remote; my son and I spent hours working from home and relied on our internet provider, Consolidated Communications, to stay connected with work, school, family, friends and even doctors.
There were a few glitches and slow speeds on certain days, but for the most part we navigated this new remote school and work well and our internet service provided enough bandwidth to keep us connected.
Last week, a Consolidated Communications technician came to our home to switch us over from DSL to fiber optics, and it was done in a matter of hours. We are now one of the 9,000 homes in Brattleboro getting high-speed internet from fiber-optic cable. Fiber optics is the “technology used to transmit information as pulses of light through strands of fiber made of glass or plastic over long distances,” as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it.
“Consolidated Communications is delivering symmetrical, gigabit, fiber internet service to more than 30,000 residents and businesses in Barre, Bellows Falls, Brattleboro, Fair Haven, Rutland, West Rutland, Pittsfield, Montpelier and Proctor by the end of September,” says Erik Garr, president of consumer and small business services at Consolidated Communications, in a phone interview.
Garr continues, “We have delivered fiber to 22,000 addresses so far including 9,000 in Brattleboro and are on track to deliver modern levels of fiber to the home to 50,000 Vermont addresses by the end of 2021. Fiber networks provide dependable connections supporting video conferencing for remote workers and learners; allowing the creation and uploading of high-bandwidth content; enabling easy use of smart-home devices, and streaming and gaming without interruption.”
Like me, you might be wondering how does it all work?
“We start building at a central location, like the one on Main Street in Brattleboro, which we call a hub. That hub is what connects Brattleboro to the rest of the world,” said Jeffrey Austin, senior director of Fiber Build Strategy for Consolidated Communications.
The company is building “more than 2,000 miles of multigig symmetrical fiber in Vermont,” which he says will be the fiber foundation that drives the future of broadband in the state.
Austin says that fiber is “the most reliable medium you can have on the poles, and it’s easier and faster to fix.”
Thousands of residents and businesses in Vermont can now get some of the fastest internet speeds in the country, says Garr.
“Reliable fiber network connectivity drives economic development and creates new opportunities for businesses and residents. We’re excited to work with local communities and to offer customers a range of service options and speeds at competitive prices including installation and equipment costs,” Garr concludes.
Consolidated Communications works across 23 states and dates back 125 years, with its origins in Illinois, according to its website. For more information, visit consolidated.com/fiberlife.