The East-Central Vermont Community Fiber-Optic Network (EC Fiber) recently announced plans to increase speeds across tiers with no increase in prices.
Changes will look like this:
- "Basic" will increase from 7 to 10 Megabits per second (Mbps)
- "Standard" will increase from 20 to 25 Mbps
- "Ultra" will double from 50 to 100
- The new "Wicked" plan will increase from 100 to 500 AND will include a price decrease. (Current subscribers to the Wicked tier who pay for 400 Mbps will also get the bump up to 500 Mbps and the price decrease.)
All speeds from EC Fiber are symmetrical so both download and upload are equally fast.
Self-Funded at the Start
Twenty-four communities in Vermont make up the consortium which began in 2009. The towns joined forces to deploy a regional Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network when large corporate incumbent providers chose to invest elsewhere. Slow DSL was the best option in the area and local residents, businesses, and local institutions needed better connectivity.
Individual investors funded the initial network buildout but last year a new Vermont law took affect that allows towns to create "communications union districts." EC Fiber now functions under such a governance structure and organization officials expect to more easily attract larger investors and borrow at lower interest rates. EC Fiber hopes to answer requests to expand beyond its 24 member towns.
Increasing speeds with little or no rate increases is typical of publicly owned network communities. Tullahoma's LightTUBe, Chattanooga's EPB Fiber, and Lafayette's LUS Fiber have done it, often with little or no fanfare.
Publicly owned networks are also known to shun data caps, another tool big players like Comcast use to squeeze every penny out of subscribers. EC Fiber summed up why data caps are inconsistent with the publicly owned network philosophy:
An uncapped internet environment encourages entrepreneurs and economic growth. Despite the trend toward instituting data caps among commercial internet providers, ECFiber believes that caps are inconsistent with its mission as a community network. An unconstrained online environment frees businesses and individuals to be creative and innovative.