WHITE RIVER JUNCTION – Today, Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) joined ECFiber, Vermont’s first Communications Union District (CUD), to celebrate the completion of its mission to build broadband in 23 rural Vermont towns throughout East Central Vermont. The project started during a Town Meeting Day in 2008 when over 20 towns voted to join together to bring broadband to their communities. Eventually, this model would be replicated across the state and known as a CUD. ECFiber brought its last broadband ‘hub’ in White River Junction online today during a large ceremony that included several Vermont leaders and longtime advocates for rural broadband access.
“The work of ECFiber showcases the best of rural Vermont—connecting East Central Vermont took collaboration, innovation, and most importantly, it took our communities working together,” said Sen. Welch. “I thank ECFiber for inspiring the CUD model here in Vermont—it’s one that has enormous potential in small towns across America, and I hope CUDs will be a big player in the way rural communities get connected moving forward. From White River Junction to the world, the success of the CUD model will show everyone that the Vermont Way works.”
Recently, Senator Welch introduced the bipartisan ReConnecting Rural America Act, a bipartisan bill that will support rural communities in building out broadband by reinforcing and bolstering the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Loan and Grant Program. The bill also clarifies eligibility within the ReConnect program for CUDs like ECFiber.
Senator Welch is the Chair of the Rural Development and Energy Subcommittee on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Sen. Welch’s first hearing as Chair of the Subcommittee focused on expanding rural access to broadband. Sen. Welch also serves on the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the implementation of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program—which Sen. Welch championed as a Member of the House of Representatives. Vermont was recently allocated nearly $230 million in funding to support broadband deployment efforts throughout the state. Learn more about his work by visiting his website.