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Putney residents demand broadband - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Putney residents demand broadband

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PUTNEY, Vt. -

"All of you remember that our Governor Peter Shumlin stood right exactly there one year ago and made a very ringing promise," said John Field of Putney.

Field says Putney residents have waited too long for Governor Shumlin to fulfill his commitment to giving them affordable broadband internet access. He's asking Putney residents to sign a petition that asks representatives to take immediate action to get them the internet access he says they deserve and need.

"My wife, for example, is a pediatrician in town. She can't use her electronic medical record. When there's kids sick in the hospital and she has to get lab values and communicate about the record, she can't do it from home," Field said.

He and other Putney residents say the service is critical and they are frustrated they don't have it yet and some only have dial up.

"A lot of us are feeling really disenfranchised and disempowered," he said.

Aidan Paradis is a high school sophomore who says that if he had faster internet he could do a whole lot more when it comes to his schoolwork.

"About a year and a half ago, I paid a bunch of money to get a really nice computer and it's basically useless now, because you can't do anything," Paradis said.

Representatives acknowledge that it is important and say they are working on it, but have encountered many hurdles.

"I personally talked to Comcast, FairPoint and Southern Vermont Cable, and they all told me the same thing-- it's not a good business decision for us. They weren't ready to put up their money," said Rep. Michael Mrowicki, D-Putney.

Absent from the meeting was Governor Shumlin, who Field and others say they would have liked to talk to about the broadband internet issue. Though he visited Richmond, Georgia, and attended the meeting in East Montpelier, he didn't stop by his hometown of Putney.

"I often do go to the Putney town meeting but really my job as governor is to get around the state to listen to everybody and that's what I'm doing today," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.

Shumlin also suggested that progress is being made because they are beginning to build out wireless in Putney. Those who work with the governor at the Statehouse stand behind Shumlin and say that being in charge of the whole state makes it tough to get to every town meeting.

"I understand your frustration that I know some of you were hoping that the governor would be here today so that you could tell him personally, but remember if I have 22 towns to cover, he has 251," said Sen. Jeannette White, D-Windham County.

Field says it's taking too long and they needed this access yesterday, and wireless is an unreliable and expensive alternative.

"There should be a choice given so that every Vermonter and Putney resident should be able to have hard wired, fiber optic or DSL cable so that they can function," Field said.

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