“What’s happening now in rural communication is equivalent to what happened historically with rural electrification. But this time, it’s to bridge a digital divide between those that have internet and those that don’t,” said Duxbury resident Henry Amistadi, who spoke to the Duxbury Select Board on July 13 in an effort to encourage the board to join the Central Vermont Fiber Communication Union.
Central Vermont Fiber (CVFiber) is a nonprofit organization made up of 18 Vermont towns. Its sole goal is to get fast, dependable, affordable internet to every Vermonter. Like other internet providers, CVFiber internet is paid for through subscriber fees. Unlike other internet providers, however, the organization is nonprofit and primarily focused on providing broadband coverage to rural and underserved towns.
“Most of the bigger providers that are going to provide faster service are looking for 20 residences per mile,” said Jeremy Hansen, chair of the CVFiber governing board. However, according to CVFiber’s business plan, they can succeed with only six subscribers per mile. “We still have to run our business, pay our bills, pay off our debts, but we don’t have a profit motive,” said Hansen.
Hansen explained that the town could not force people to join the service, since it is a competitive entity. However, the town of Duxbury would not be responsible for any cost in joining the union district. The consequence of joining is that CVfiber will ask to lease some land in Duxbury in order to install broadband infrastructure.
Before the board voted on whether or not to join CVFiber, Duxbury resident Jonathan Wilson spoke in favor of joining, saying that that his family has no internet connection in Duxbury, which makes conducting business from home impossible.
Eventually, the board took a unanimous vote to join CVFiber’s Communication Union District.