The Bennington Banner, a local Vermont newspaper, reports that the e-Vermont broadband initiative has been a success so far, but still has a way to go. The e-Vermont initiative, similar to initiatives in other states, seeks to expand access to and make better use of high speed internet throughout all parts of the state, bringing broadband access to more rural parts of the state not currently covered by phone and cable providers, and improving internet access with technology where it already exists.
Locally so far, the program has resulted in netbooks for students, local websites for a number of Vermont towns, and workshops and webinars on how to take advantage of internet access. The program has been running for two years, and a recent report from the Vermont Council on Rural Development shows that 24 communites around the state have benefited from the e-Vermont Community Broadband Project. The project is a governmental organization partnering with 11 private companies to identify and implement projects in response to specific local needs. Funding came from the Sustainable Broadband Adoption grants program, which was a result of 2009’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Further work in this area in concert with the e-Vermont project includes an effort to bring high speed internet access to all Vermont residents by the end of 2013, using private capital and $410 million in federal investments. The broadband effort has been likened to the 1930s project to bring electricity to all parts of the state.
The e-Vermont project not only brought 1,326 netbooks to local schools for students, it also partnered with the Vermont Department of Libraries to bring expanded internet access and upgraded equipment to 27 public libraries, along with library workshops and webinars to help people learn about computer related topics and online marketing for businesses.