I’d like to update you on my rural broadband efforts. (If you would like the backstory, check these posts)
Over the past few weeks I and others have been pressing hard on a variety of fronts. We’ve pinged and interviewed technologists, business leaders and representatives, nonprofit leaders, elected politicians, people running for office, and many people in our area.
We have come up with a set of possible options, which I’ll return to in a followup post. Here I’d like to note one potential positive sign.
After all of this action on our part, Fairpoint seems to be responding. If you’re new to this story, or don’t remember the details, Fairpoint is our local ISP. They have a monopoly position in much of rural Vermont, including our town.
They then emailed local politicians, assuring them of better broadband.
And check out this notice in a briefing document for this week’s local government meeting in a nearby town:
The team from Fairpoint Communications then initiated a presentation focused on the company’s wide array of services and the options for potential customers in and close to Middlebury. They also described several recent investments that will be improving access to faster broadband speeds in our larger community inclusive of the Ripton area.
The group then collectively reviewed a series of aerial maps depicting Fairpoint’s current and future network facilities in and around Middlebury. There was a conversation about being able to augment service in the vicinity of the Middlebury Airport and for the growing community of telecommuters that we have in the area. The Fairpoint representatives also discussed their willingness to communicate with our community around any needs that are currently unaddressed or options for different classes of service. [emphasis added]
Why does this matter? First, Middlebury is the biggest and by far the richest town in the area, which is why Fairpoint presents there. But there are other towns around Middlebury, of which Ripton is just one (and a smaller, and poorer one). Here you can see six towns orbiting Middlebury:
We, plus one more, share the same school district (about which more later). Yet Fairpoint singled out Ripton from the rest to mention.
Second, I haven’t heard of any activism from any of these other towns. So maybe, just maybe, all the noise we’ve been making is having an effect, changing the mind of our monopoly ISP. Perhaps this is a good result that vindicates our efforts and will lead to better infrastructure.
I called Fairpoint’s business line to ask about the news.
The representative had no idea what I was talking about.
“We at the business office are usually the last to know,” she spun, and then offered to call back when she found out more.
She did call back, the next day. I wasn’t home (and remember we have no cell phone coverage), so my wife took the call. The Fairpoint representative said *something* was in the works, but she had no details, including no timeline.
I’m going to follow up by calling the Fairpoint workers and executives who’ve been speaking to me in the recent past.
What do you make of this, oh readers?