Vermont Business Magazine While many took a break for the holiday season, NEK Broadband and its partners worked hard to complete the first section of its fiber optic network and customer installations. Construction crews battled inclement weather to finish suspending fiber optic cable from utility poles, installing “drops” at customers’ homes, and activating the first-ever service on its new network. When this initial project is complete, nearly 350 addresses in parts of Concord and Lunenburg, as well as a few addresses in Waterford, will be able to subscribe to access symmetric service of 100 Mbps or more.

The results were seen immediately by customers.

According to Don Whitehead, “It’s been a struggle working from home on DSL. I had to drive to the office just to move a big file. I was quite skeptical when construction started in November. But I was online before December 31. The download speed is over 50 times faster than dual-band DSL and the upload speed is over 250 times faster.

George Babcock was enthusiastic: “The installation team were brilliant and it was painless and quick. The biggest difference we noticed was the quality of streaming TV and the drastic reduction in buffering. Thank you for bringing the Northeast Kingdom into the 21st century!”

NEK Broadband has partnered with Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom (WCVT), a 118-year-old, third-generation Vermont family-owned telecommunications company, as an Internet carrier. “WCVT brings over twenty years of experience building a rural fiber optic network,” reports Chairman of the Board Evan Carlson, “our customers can rely on their quality service standards.”

Technician Dave Haskins showing active service through NEK Broadband in Concord, VT. Photos courtesy of NEK Broadband

This project was funded under the federal CARES Act, which required network construction to be completed by the end of 2021. NEK Broadband received an initial grant of $460,000 for parts of Concord. An agreement with Lamoille FiberNet provided an additional $399,000 sub-grant for a total of more than 350 locations in Concord and Lunenburg.

“This first project proves that the Communications Union District (CUD) model can be successful. We had very little time to get it designed, designed, licensed and built. All of our partners and suppliers, including Eustis Cable, Green Mountain Power, Mission Broadband, the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, VELCO and Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom have done everything possible to make this project happen within a very tight timeframe,” said the general manager. Christa Shut.

In addition, a lot of volunteer time and effort from NEK Broadband board members has been involved. This commitment will continue throughout the five- to seven-year timeline to reach all 55 cities in Orleans, Caledonia and Essex counties, as well as Wolcott.

There are other successes that the organization celebrates:

  • As of this month, 100% of towns in the North East Kingdom, plus Wolcott in Lamoille County, are now members of the organization.
  • NEK Broadband recently received a $6.7 million pre-construction grant from the Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB) to help fund the detailed design, construction planning and administration of the entire network.
  • A successful transfer of the once state-owned fiber means the organization now has an additional 170 miles across much of the northern regions.

Residents of the Northeast Kingdom and Wolcott are encouraged to express interest in subscribing to get.nekbroadband.org. Although building the entire network can take up to seven years, signing up now will make the process easier. On the website, potential subscribers will provide an address and contact information, as well as complete a brief survey. NEK Broadband will provide ongoing updates to all who have signed up as well as local media.

About NEK Broadband
NEK Broadband is a community organization that ensures that every resident of the Kingdom of Northeastern Vermont has access to high-speed internet. Affordable internet is essential to creating greater economic prosperity and educational opportunities for residents today and for future generations. Formed on March 3, 2020, NEK Broadband is a Communications Union District (CUD) representing all cities in Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans counties, as well as Wolcott in Lamoille County.

Concord, Vermont – 01/27/2022 Broadband NEK