ECFiber, the East Central Vermont Telecommunications District, is a joint venture of 24 Vermont towns, including Hancock, seeking to build and operate a municipally-owned universal, open access, fiber-optic telecommunications network. ECFiber is owned by its 24 member towns, and is self-sustaining through the issuance of municipal revenue bonds. Local taxpayer funds cannot be used to subsidize the District’s operations.
The Hancock Select Board has appointed Scott Gillette as a delegate and Stacey Peters as an alternate delegate to the ECFiber Governing Board. The Governing Board adopts by-laws and operating policies and procedures and elects an Executive Committee to handle matters that may arise between monthly meetings of the full Governing Board.
Hancock delegates are substantially involved in the activities of ECFiber. Monthly Governing Board meetings are generally held at Vermont Law School, Oakes Hall, starting at 7:00 pm on the second Tuesday of every month. ECFiber Governing Board meetings are open to the public.
Additional information about the ECFiber project and deployment updates can be found at www.ecfiber.net.
Revenue Bond issue
The VT Legislature’s creation of Communication Union Districts in 2015 provided ECFiber with the ability to reorganize as the first of such districts in Vermont, and in doing so, enter the municipal bond market. In April 2016 ECFiber successfully floated a $10 million bond issue through MCM Capital Management, ECFiber’s investment partner. A portion of the 2016 proceeds was used to repurchase private debt that had been issued to start the network in its early years, and the remaining funds were earmarked to continue the build-out of the network.
In April 2017 the District completed a $14.5 million offering of Series 2017A Bonds to refinance the remaining original debt, cover 2017 capital expenditures, and complete the design and make ready for 250 miles of new construction in 2018.
As of December 2017, 529 miles of fiber-optic network had been built and “lit” in parts of 21 member towns, serving about 2300 customers. ECFiber plans to continue to raise capital through the municipal bond market in 2018, 2019, and 2020, and to complete 1400 miles of network covering all underserved locations in its 24 towns by 2020. Hancock currently has 4 miles of ECFiber cable run, and ECFiber is already serving 23 Hancock customers.
ECFiber’s not-for-profit partner, ValleyNet, is in charge of the actual implementation of the network. ValleyNet determines its construction schedule by balancing areas of high demand, current levels of service, and geographic contiguity. Assuming that the municipal bond market continues to be robust and that ECFiber revenues are sufficient to justify the financing, ECFiber’s Internet will reach all underserved portions of all 24 towns by the end of 2020.
In 2017 ECFiber continued its practice of raising speeds, but not prices, by announcing that the District’s tiers of service would now be set at bandwidths of 17/40/200/700 Mbps.
Current Connectivity Status for Hancock
Hancock is one of 6 towns selected for a complete build-out in 2018, along with Braintree, Brookfield, Granville, Rochester, and Stockbridge. This means every resident in Hancock will be able to subscribe and take advantage of ECFiber’s service this year. As of January 25, 2018, connectivity is available to residents of Route 100 from the Route 125 intersection south into Rochester, and along Route 125 shortly west of Texas Falls.
If you have questions about ECFiber, please contact Scott or Stacey at email@example.com
Scott Gillette and Stacey Peters, Hancock ECFiber Delegates