New broadband bill would subsidize service instead of building out

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 4:24 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - A new bill in Montpelier uses stimulus money to make broadband more affordable.

Rather than using the one-time monies to build out service, this plan calls for subsidizing service for low-income Vermonters.

It would use $27 million to purchase equipment, find willing internet providers, pay hookup fees and subsidize service so that the neediest Vermonters don’t pay more than $25 a month for internet.

Advocates say affordability is a bigger problem than accessibility.

“We spend a lot of time talking about the technology about wired versus wireless, about satellite versus fiber. What’s really important to keep in mind throughout all of this is that all the technology in the world is useless unless it’s affordable, particularly to those people who are at the lower scale of income in Vermont,” said Sen. Randy Brock, R-Franklin County.

Proponents say this bill should help 50,000 Vermont families get internet at home.

This is a short-term plan that would sunset after two years. The hope is that by then, incomes will rebound and build-out would increase access to more affordable options.

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