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October 09, 2012

Gov. Shumlin Announces $2 Million Federal Award to Expand Wireless Phone Service

Gov. Peter Shumlin and Vermont’s Congressional delegation today announced the award of more than $2 million to bring more mobile voice and data service, using 4G/LTE 700 MHz, to 941 miles of Vermont roads that currently lack cellular access. The funding is the result of a first-ever auction by the Federal Communications Commission to fund cost-effective wireless projects in unserved areas of the country, including Vermont.

“Vermont and VTEL worked quickly to capitalize on this opportunity to bid for federal funding to extend wireless phone service to areas of Vermont that are currently black holes for cellular phone service,” said Gov. Shumlin. He said the funding would help Vermont expand broadband, cellular and smart grid telecommunications capacity, adding another $2 million to the almost $60 million of federal, state, Smart Grid, and VTEL resources that are building this project.

“It was astounding to see how fast government and the private sector could work together to make opportunity a reality in telecommunications,” said Vermont National Telephone President Michel Guite, who appeared at a news conference today with the Governor and congressional representatives to announce the award. “Our mission is to support rural Vermonters, on farms and in smaller villages unserved by most of the wireless giants, and to do so at low cost and with great service. To our small company this $2 million will be tremendously helpful, and couldn’t have been done without rapid-action support from Vermont’s Department of Public Service, Public Service Board, Connect VT, and the Administration. Vermont is becoming a national leader in wired and wireless broadband innovation, and we are proud to play a small part.”

“Advances in wireless technology are vital to Vermont’s economy, and good coverage and quality are important in Vermonters’ daily lives. Rural areas have lagged the rest of the country as networks have built out broadband access and mobile phone coverage, and Vermont’s terrain also has been a longstanding factor,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy. “Vermonters deserve the same 3G and 4G coverage that is available in other parts of the country. I am pleased that VTEL has won these new resources to bring us closer to full coverage in Vermont.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders said, “Largely as a result of aggressive federal investment over the past few years, Vermont is well on its way to extending universal and affordable broadband to all areas of the state. This new award will get us closer to that goal, and will bring the many benefits of high-speed internet connectivity to more Vermonters, including businesses, schools, first responders, healthcare providers, and more.”

“This is great news for Vermont. In a world where broadband access means entrepreneurial opportunity, it is essential that Vermonters are not left behind,” said Rep. Peter Welch. “This VTEL grant will help improve Vermont's communications infrastructure and economy, giving homes the potential to become businesses and linking entrepreneurs to the world.”

The funding, which was awarded to VTEL through a nationwide auction, will enable Vermont National Telephone Co. Inc. to deliver wireless service to unserved areas of Orange, Caledonia, Orleans, Washington and other counties (for a map of locations, see web address below). Guite said that this award will extend the 4G 700 Mhz Wireless Open World network to targeted cellular corridors such as Route 125 in Caledonia and Orange County, and other areas. The new sites can function to deliver fixed broadband and mobile broadband and voice connections, with VTEL as a retail provider of cellular services.

In announcing the awards, the FCC said as part of the auction rules, winning companies must complete projects within three years. They must also make their networks available to other providers for roaming so that as many consumers as possible can benefit from the new networks. The FCC said 38 companies and subsidiaries participated in the auction, submitting nearly 900 bids. Winners ranged from larger national carriers like T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular to smaller carriers like Pine Belt Cellular, Inc. in Alabama, and VTEL Wireless, Inc.

The FCC said carriers competed against others across the country, and winners were chosen based on the lowest cost-per-mile bids to extend coverage to unserved roads. The VTEL bid was $2,184 mile.

In a release, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “For too many, dead zones in mobile Internet coverage are too common – and today’s winners will help the U.S. close those gaps. But today’s real winners are the American people, millions of whom will soon have greater access to the job, education and healthcare opportunities of America’s world-leading mobile economy. Over the last few years, the U.S. has regained global leadership in mobile innovation – and today’s successful auction will help our nation maintain that leadership in the 21st century.”

To see a map of the Vermont areas that will be impacted by the award, visit http://apps.fcc.gov/auction901/map/auction_result_ext.html, and click on the Vermont icon on the right.

For a full list of winning companies, visit http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2012/db1003/DA-12-1566A2.pdf

Source: Office of the Governor
Last Updated at: October 09, 2012 09:01:34
Governor Peter Shumlin | Policies

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