22 Vermont rural towns pool efforts to build fiber network: I don't usually write much about fiber--it's a kind of wire, for crying out loud--but this is an interesting model for rural communities that are still left behind in the telecom revolution because of the lack of interest by monopolies and competitors in rewiring remote areas. The East Central Vermont Community Fiber Network (try saying ec-vic-fun out loud) could increase the viability of these rural communities by providing a lifeline for telecommuters and local businesses trying to stay competitive. Half of the population of the towns has no option for broadband; I expect, although it's not mentioned, that most of the other half can only get a slow speed of broadband, too, since broadband includes 512 Kbps downstream, 128 Kbps upstream DSL.
The network would requires $70m, and the estimate is for positive cash flow in 4 to 6 years from just 6,000 paying customers out of the 25,000 residents in the covered towns. The plan includes--here it comes--a wireless overlay to enable mobile voice and data.
It's no walk in the park to build fiber in rural areas, but it's also clear that broadband brings business. I'd like to see some economic analysis of what happened in the Berkshires in Massachusetts following the laying of fiber along two major north-south highways across that region.
There's likely to be little carping by incumbents or others because these markets they'd rather not serve. The more the markets serve themselves, the less the incumbents are required to pay from Universal Service Funds and other state programs to subsidize service. If 6,000 people switched phone service to the East Central fiber system, that would likely produce hundreds of thousands of dollars a year or more in savings for the local telcos.