The East Central Vermont Community Fiber Network has announced it will connect an entire town as its second phase. Barnard, Vermont, will be the first town to have universal access to ECFiber's next-generation network.
An update on Phase 1 of this network:
Phase 1, with construction under way (see photo) and scheduled to go live in early August, brings an ultra-high-speed fiber loop from the ECFiber central office near I89 Exit 3, along VT Routes 107 and 12, to the center of Barnard. ECFiber expects to begin connecting businesses and residents who live on this route in early August and will provide detailed subscriber information closer to that date.
ECFiber has 23 member towns, but Barnard could be the most enthusiastic. This is as grassroots as it gets:
At its June meeting, the ECFiber Governing Board authorized an initiative to extend service to the rest of Barnard town. This requires a second round of capital-raising through a similar "friends and families" offering directed specifically to residents, businesses, and others who wish to support the deployment of universal broadband in Barnard.
Loredo Sola, ECF Governing Board Chair commented, "When we first took our plan to Barnard, we were inundated with residents offering to pay the entire cost of extending the Phase 1 trunk to their homes. This enthusiastic response inspired us to authorize a Barnard-only fund drive." ECFiber will be organizing informational meetings for Barnard residents and businesses to explain the details of the plan.
When sufficient funds have been committed to build out the entire town, the Barnard Local Fund will close, and construction of Phase 2 can begin.
Barnard had 94% of the community presubscribe!
The success of ECFiber comes without any support of the state, which has continued to pretend wireless connections and out-of-state corporations will provide the networks necessary for the economic development needed by communities.
Valley News took note of the story and expanded on it:
Without other funding streams, it could take seven to 10 years to build out to all 23 towns, Nulty said, but the company is committed to seeing it happen. By building out to Barnard, a town with few other Internet options, and eventually providing “universal coverage” there, ECFiber hopes to demonstrate its business model and attract more investors who could speed up the process.
And some financial details:
In phase one, notes were sold for $4,500 a piece, with varying interest rates depending on the level of investment, Nulty said. For subsequent financing phases, the notes will be valued differently. About 25 percent of the note goes toward the central ECFiber fund to build out future “links” of fiber, he said, and the rest goes toward the network in the specific town being built out -- in this case, Barnard.
And finally, a classic quote from Tim Nulty -- a Vermonter who will always choose to be self-reliant if at all possible:
[I]nterviewed on Tuesday, he said it felt “fantastic” to finally make some tangible progress on the ECFiber dream. He only regretted the time wasted pursuing the federal stimulus money.
“As a native Vermonter, I can't tell you how many nights of sleep I've lost for going to the federal government with a beggar's bowl when we should have done it ourselves,” Nulty said. “So, it feels good, but it’s also coupled with immense regret.”