Governor Phil Scott Signs Bill to Expand Connectivity in Rural Communities
Dover, Vt. – At a public ceremony Thursday, Governor Phil Scott signed H.513, An act relating to broadband deployment throughout Vermont, which invests in expanding broadband connectivity throughout the state.
“While we know it’s not a cure-all to economic challenges, we can all agree reliable broadband is important for economic growth, education, public safety and overall access to information, services and people around the world,” said Governor Scott. “I want to thank the House Energy & Technology and the Senate Finance Committees for their work on this legislation, as well as my team at the Department of Public Service and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. It was a bill with genuine consensus in Montpelier, which is far too rare.”
Governor Scott signed the bill at Dover Town Hall and was accompanied by Public Service Commissioner June Tierney, Representative Laura Sibilia (I-West Dover), Representative Tim Briglin (D-Thetford), Representative John Gannon (D-Wilmington), Representative David Durfee (D-Shaftsbury), Representative Kelly Pajala (I-Londonderry), Senator Becca Balint (D-Windham), Karen Horn of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, and additional members of the Legislature and the Scott Administration.
The legislation increases funding to the Connectivity Initiative to provide internet service in unserved or underserved regions of the state and creates a new Broadband Expansion Loan Program within the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) to provide implementation capital to start-up broadband providers to develop community-based solutions.
“One of the many things we can celebrate about H.513 is that it is a law that doesn’t just contemplate or authorize better connectivity in Vermont. Rather, it is a law that will do things – things that are important for our state,” said Commissioner Tierney. “More Vermonters will get broadband because of this bill. Vermont communities will have new financing tools and a coach to help with their projects. H.513 makes those resources available and so much more.”
In total, the state invested an additional $1.5 million to these initiatives, which includes:
- Support for rural broadband solutions through a new Broadband Innovation Grant Program;
- Creation of a new Broadband Expansion Loan Program to provide alternative broadband providers with capital that recognizes start-ups in this field;
- Investment in the Connectivity Initiative to provide access to Internet service in unserved or underserved locations;
- Support for municipalities with technical assistance grants through the ThinkVT Innovation Program; and
- Creation of a new Broadband Technical Assistance Specialist to provide outreach and support to rural communities with broadband projects.