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NEK Broadband is second CUD to begin construction

Published: Dec. 4, 2021 at 8:55 PM EST
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CONCORD, Vt. (WCAX) - Fiberoptic lines are on the way in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, and that’s welcoming news for Bobby Brooks.

Brooks has lived in East Concord for twenty years and is sick of not having adequate broadband service.

“If I’m not connected to internet somewhere, there’s nothing here for service or nothing,” said Brooks about his spotty internet connection.

Brooks is part of the 42% of the Northeast Kingdom that is “under-served,” which, according to the state’s Public Service Department, means he does not have access to high-speed broadband internet.

A new Community Utility District, NEK Broadband, wants to get Vermonters like Brooks connected with high-speed fiberoptic lines.

“We’re able to get a project scoped and funded,” said NEK Broadband Chair Evan Carlson.

Thanks to CARES Act funding and a sub-grant from the state, NEK Broadband started fiberoptic network construction in November. Carlson says this is part of a pilot project focusing on the Concord, Waterford, and Lunenburg area.

“It’s helping build competency internally and grease the wheels a little bit before we start out first full construction season in 2022,” Carlson said.

Carlson added that these towns already have existing infrastructure they could tack on to, and they will be offering up to one gigabyte of service.

“It’s exciting to offer that level of service,” said Carlson. “And knowing we’ll be able to support future needs for users.”

However, when it comes to customer pricing, Carlson says they don’t have that sorted out just yet.

“We will be offering an affordable service and probably a low-income service of some sort,” Carlson said.

Right now, NEK Broadband will strictly be providing fast internet connection, but Carlson says they are not ruling out future opportunities for bundling streaming services.

NEK Broadband says they have 342 addresses to connect on their docket with a goal to connect 500 addresses per year over the next five-to-seven years.

“Oh boy, I’m excited,” said Brooks. “We’ve been praying for this for 20 years.”

Carlson says the CUD wants all 342 homes in this project to be connected by the end of 2021.

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