ECFiber Plans 2021 Expansion in New Towns

Royalton VT, October 21, 2020: ECFiber will build over 160 miles of fiber‐ optic network in towns of Bradford, Corinth, Fairlee, West Fairlee and Windsor in 2021, according to a proposed budget released to its member towns this week. The budget also provides funding for 75 miles of network in Hartford and 40 miles of construction in existing towns to meet increased demand.

ECFiber Chairman F.X. Flinn commented, “The pandemic has made it crystal clear to everyone that rural Vermont needs access to world‐class broadband. ECFiber’s approach is the only real solution to meet those needs. That’s why seven towns joined ECFiber this year. That’s why eight new districts like ECFiber have been established in Vermont this year. Next construction season, we are going to start delivering in those new towns ‐‐ and we are not spending taxpayers money to do this.”

The East Central Vermont Telecommunications District, which does business as ECFiber, sent its annual report and proposed budget to the select boards of its 30 member towns this week and announced plans for an electronic public hearing on the proposed budget on Tuesday, November 10th, at 7pm. The budget, with any changes, will be formally adopted at the December 8th meeting.

Included in the materials is a chart showing planned construction for the next 3 years, along with notes indicating that the towns of Newbury, Topsham, and Washington, which also joined the district this year, may see some construction next year. The local electricity utility, Washington Electric Cooperative (WEC), is in discussions with ECFiber, and its operating partner, ValleyNet, regarding this possibility.

ValleyNet, a non‐profit organization and the Upper Valley’s first internet service provider, was instrumental in creating ECFiber and has proven it is possible to deliver world class broadband to rural Vermont in a cost‐ effective manner without putting any burden on taxpayers. As Vermont’ first communications union district (CUD), the effort is funded entirely by customer revenues, which back tax‐free municipal bonds issued by the district. To date the district has borrowed over $41 million and plans an additional bond offering for over $11 million in December.

Chris Recchia, ValleyNet’s Managing Director and head of ECFiber’s day to day business, noted, “We are excited to be closing in on completing construction in our original member towns where there is no access to cable internet. This opens the door to a rapid build out of similar areas in our new towns. Our website is ready to start taking signups and I encourage residents in our new towns to do that now. The more advance planning we can do the faster we will be able to turn them into customers.”

ECFiber delivers internet via fiber‐to‐the‐premises (FTTP), where fiber‐ optic cable is used to provide equal speed for uploads and downloads, called symmetrical service. This results in smoother online meetings, effortless video streaming and the ability to use WiFi calling on mobile phones. Each connection is independent, so everyone in a neighborhood can be using the service without impacting others.

Presently ECFiber offers speeds of 25/25, 100/100, 300/300 and 800/800 mbps download/upload, plus a phone service option, and has over 5,200 customers. When fully built in all 30 member towns nearly 31,500 premises will be able to access world‐class broadband.

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Attachments: ECFiber Annual Report and Proposed 2021 Budget Notice of Public Hearing on Proposed Budget