Google Fiber Pulls Plug on Negotiations for Northwestern Vermont Broadband Network
Two communications union districts serving northwestern Vermont no longer plan to jointly build and operate an “open access” fiber broadband network in the region.
The plan fell apart after Google Fiber pulled the plug last week on negotiations that were near completion for it to become the proposed network’s first internet service provider. In doing so, it cited a lack of confidence in the ability of Lamoille FiberNet — one of the districts — to carry out the project.
The proposed partnership was heralded as a major step toward expanding broadband access in communities with some of the least access to reliable, high-speed internet in the state.
Sean Kio, executive director of Northwest Fiberworx — which covers just under 30,000 addresses across Franklin, Grand Isle and Chittenden counties — detailed the situation in an Aug. 17 letter to the organization’s governing board that was obtained by VTDigger.
He confirmed the details in an interview, saying that Northwest Fiberworx still wants to build, own and maintain an open access network in the three counties it serves.
But without the addition of the roughly 14,000 addresses in neighboring Lamoille County covered by Lamoille FiberNet, no existing proposal has enough addresses to meet the 42,000 minimum required by Google Fiber, he said.
Open access networks provide infrastructure for multiple, competing internet service providers, rather than just one.
Kio wrote in the letter that a consultant hired by Lamoille FiberNet conducted a review of the organization’s plans for the Google Fiber partnership on Aug. 1, and found that initial cost assumptions provided by a previous consultant were no longer viable.
The organization also was concerned that a proposed agreement with Google Fiber was “onerous and unrealistic,” he wrote, and that it wasn’t currently possible for the district to reach all of the addresses it needed to.
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