By Shaw Israel Izikson, Contributor
The town’s Selectboard has scheduled a discussion on fiber optic internet broadband access for their next meeting on Monday, Sept. 27, at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.
According to Selectboard member Louise McCarren, at the Sept. 27 meeting, a representative from Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom (WCVT) will give a presentation on the town’s broadband coverage and how to potentially provide better coverage for residents.
State Rep. Michael Yantachka (D) told the board that, according to WCVT, at least 25 percent of Charlotte residents do not have fiber optic broadband internet access.
Yantachka, who serves on the House Energy and Technology Committee, said, “I’ve heard from a lot of people from Charlotte who are having trouble with slow broadband access.”
“It is my intention, and the intention of the committee, to get high-speed broadband out to everyone in Vermont,” he said. “WCVT has been building up fiber optic cable throughout Charlotte over the years. Now that there is money available from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan, we can allocate money to this. The sooner we can get on board with this, the better. What is going to happen is that there will be a huge demand for trained workers to install broadband.”
He said that any upgrades to the town’s internet system would allow for internet upload and download speeds up to 100 Megabits per second (Mbps).
“If you are a customer and you connect, you will have the option of getting those speeds, or if you don’t want to pay as much money, you can get a slower speed,” he said. “I am working with a 50 Mbps system and it seems to be working very well for me. My kids use it.”
Board member McCarren said that she has conducted research on possible plans on upgrading broadband access for residents.
“I think the most important thing from the presentation by WCVT is to find out where there are holes in broadband coverage in town and what it will take to fix those holes,” McCarren said. “There may be some really oddball places in Charlotte, and some residents may be served by a different company than WCVT. We can work that out.”
She said that after investigating several plans the town should go for a public and private partnership with WCVT for internet upgrades.
“That’s because our telephone company WCVT is a good provider,” she said. “They know how to do this stuff.”
“The sooner we get on board with this, the better,” Rep. Yantachka said. “Let’s get everybody connected as quickly as possible.”