Waitsfield Telecom received a federal stimulus package totaling $5.6 million that will go for increasing broadband access in its service area.

The funding represents a grant of $3,891,982 and a loan of $1,667,993. The funds are part of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act and come from a pool of $7 billion to be used for improving high-speed internet access in rural areas.

The award will allow Waitsfield-Champlain Valley Telecom to offer high-speed broadband service in the counties of Addison, Chittenden and Washington. In The Valley, according to company spokesperson Kurt Gruendling, it will allow the company to improve internet speeds on Lincoln Gap and West Hill Roads in Warren, on Butternut Hill and parts of Route 100 south of it in Waitsfield and on Fuller Hill Road in East Warren.

A press release from the USDA notes that "approximately 1,385 people stand to benefit, as do roughly 56 businesses and two community institutions. In addition to the jobs this project will support up front, it will provide a foundation for economic growth and job creation for decades to come."

Gruendling said Waitsfield Telecom was thrilled to receive the award and said it would accelerate the company's eventual and ultimate transition to fiber optic service. He said the company will put the grant money to work quickly as it must be spent within two years.