To build and operate a universal, open access, fiber-to-the premises network, bringing state-of-the art connectivity to every home, business and civic institution in all of our member towns.
Why are these small Vermont towns building a state-of-the-art network along their back roads?
Full-speed Internet service has become essential to education and to participation in today’s economy. Commercial providers compete for customers in town centers, but they ignore the outskirts as inadequately profitable to satisfy their stockholders. The resulting digital divide leaves out all too many creative, productive Vermonters who don’t live in the town centers.
Rural America faced a similar problem in the 1930’s. Electricity and the telephone had become essential to participation in the economy of the time. Farmers living on the back roads, however, were being left out. The Rural Electrification Administration was established in recognition of those farmers’ basic right to participate in the modern economy. The Vermont towns that voted to form ECFiber in the spring of 2008 recognized high-speed Internet as the equivalent necessity for full participation in the 21st-century economy.
And why are we building a fiber-optic network?
Actually, it’s a matter of Vermont thrift: if we’re going to pay crews to hang any kind of cables on poles, we’d rather just do it right the first time. Once in place, fiber-optic cables will last for a hundred years; and as higher data rates are needed, we can simply replace the small electronic devices at the end of each fiber. Fiber technology also lets us offer symmetrical speeds, (equal upload and download data rates,) which are especially important for serious educational or business use.
That’s easy: we have no far-away stockholders. When our revenues exceed our expenses, any excess not needed for further network construction will be returned to our member towns, not to stockholders.