Program would designate, aid business broadband improvement districts

The Vermont Telecommunications Authority has announced a new initiative to work with communities that wish to support businesses and local economies through improvements in broadband Internet service. Through an Application for Assistance, the VTA is soliciting proposals to define Business Broadband Improvement Districts. This is an opportunity to bring together the efforts and resources of municipalities, their local business communities, state government and broadband service providers.

Once districts are designated, they will provide the focal point for a more extensive process. Next steps by the VTA are designed to identify specific needs for improved broadband Internet services to businesses of all sizes, from small or home-based to large companies that are within a district. The VTA intends to provide technical assistance, including direct communications with broadband Internet service providers about identified needs. In addition, VTA funding may be available to improve Internet service within selected districts through a variety of solutions, including a portion of the funds for publicly available Wi-Fi.

The VTAs legislative authorization for this program allows funds to be used in two ways: for expanding service to unserved addresses or upgrading service in underserved business districts.

The VTA has prioritized funding toward the first objective: reaching the last of the unserved locations that are not yet part of a funded broadband expansion project. The final cost to reach those unserved addresses will determine the amount of funding remaining that can be directed to Business Broadband Improvement District projects. The VTA expects that not less than $1 million will be available for projects within districts, and there may be up to $2 million.

The Application for Assistance is posted at An important aspect of the application is that requests for district designation must include the involvement of a town, city or village. A municipality may be the applicant, or a local or regional group that has the support of a municipality may also apply. The deadline for submitting Application Response Forms is Sept. 18, 2013.

For more information about the VTA and Internet expansion projects, go to and You may also contact Caro Thompson of the VTA at or 802-828-3224.

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