Granville is last town in county to get high-speed Internet

ADDISON COUNTY — In late December, FairPoint Communications expanded broadband Internet service to 225 Granville homes and businesses.
The arrival of high-speed Internet in the town is a milestone for the company: Now all of Fairpoint’s Addison County exchanges have at least some broadband coverage, and nearly 90 percent of the company’s customers statewide have access to broadband Internet.
The expansion marks FairPoint’s most recent rollout of service in Addison County. It also expanded service to parts of Goshen and Hancock in April 2011, though those towns remain without full coverage.
The company did meet its June 30 goal of 95 percent broadband coverage in 51 of its 99 exchanges. (Fairpoint also pledged to extend the connection to any member of that remaining five percent in those exchanges who requested it.) In attaining that goal, the company laid 1,100 miles of new fiber at a cost of $79 million, according to FairPoint spokesperson Sabina Haskell.
Haskell said Granville did not fall within that list of 51 exchanges, but that the company had been working since the summer to link the town up to broadband coverage. Despite unexpected delays from Tropical Storm Irene, Granville was connected to service by the end of 2011.
“This was something we really wanted to do for the folks in Granville because it was so important to them,” said Haskell.
She said there are no major additional projects planned for Addison County in the coming months.
Meanwhile, across the state telecommunications companies are scrambling to meet Gov. Peter Shumlin’s goal of universal broadband and cellular coverage by the end of 2013. This comes following former Gov. Douglas’s 2007 e-state law, which pledged to extend high-speed Internet availability to all Vermonters by the end of 2010.
Robin Scheu, executive director of the Addison County Economic Development Corporation, said that broadband availability is increasingly crucial for businesses, many of which are increasingly competing on a global scale. And high-speed Internet at home can also open the option of telecommuting to employees, whether their place of business is in Vermont, Boston or further afield.
“Infrastructure is a key component for economic development, and broadband is a key part of infrastructure,” said Scheu. “For businesses that don’t have access to (broadband Internet), it’s a limiting factor.”
Even within Middlebury, Scheu said, low-cost broadband has been a major demand. Until 2009, when businesses spoke up in favor of accessible broadband, Exchange Street businesses could only sign up for Internet access from the high-cost T1 line that runs along the railroad tracks — not an accessible service for most small business owners.
To Scheu, the focus on broadband expansion is an important trend.
“If we want businesses to come here, grow here, stay here, broadband is a key part of the infrastructure,” she said.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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