Hardwick, Vermont – NEK Broadband celebrates the announcement of a nearly $16M Construction Grant from the Act 71 Broadband Construction Program. The Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB) reviewed—and unanimously voted— last month to approve NEK Broadband’s construction grant request of $15,899,089, making it the first Communications Union District (CUD) in Vermont awarded through this program.
The funding will allow the CUD to construct 215 miles of network, connecting 1,479 households along the way, explained Governing Board Chair Evan Carlson. “This is a watershed moment for our CUD,” said Carlson. “We are thrilled to now have the funds in hand to get construction underway.” Early construction will be concentrated in Concord, Kirby and Waterford, with additional miles expected in Brighton, Burke, East Haven, Lyndon, Newark, Sutton and Wheelock.
NEK Broadband is the first of nine CUDs in the state to be awarded this funding. The group has already received $8.25 million to support material purchases and pre-construction on up to 2,800 miles of fiber optic cable-based internet for residents and businesses in the Northeast Kingdom and Wolcott.
“The grant application process was rigorous and included thorough vetting from CTC, an independent consultant contracted by VCBB,” said Carlson in an email to the governing board. “It speaks volumes to the work of our team, and also establishes a path for other CUDs in the state. I’m personally inspired to see the NEK leading the way.”
Executive Director Christa Shute notes that this grant was based on NEK Broadband’s Universal Service Plan. The goal of that plan is to provide each on-grid underserved 911 address within the Kingdom access to high-speed internet connectivity. Shute underscores the significance of this $16M being the first of $104M in expected grant funds of an estimated $185M project. Shute expressed gratitude for the volunteer time, effort, and involvement from NEK Broadband board members, as well as all towns in Orleans, Caledonia, and Essex counties and Wolcott.
Residents throughout the Northeast Kingdom and Wolcott are encouraged to indicate their interest in subscribing at https://get.nekbroadband.org. On the website, potential subscribers will provide an address and contact information, and complete a brief survey. NEK Broadband will provide ongoing updates to all those who have registered as well as through local media outlets.