BRATTLEBORO -- Information is flowing into and out of municipal facilities much more quickly now that Sovernet has connected town buildings to a high capacity fiber optic network as part of a statewide project.
Sovernet won a federal grant to construct a 900 mile fiber optic network throughout Vermont
Town offices, hospitals, libraries and schools are included in the project, acting as anchor points for the technology and work in Brattleboro has recently been completed.
"This project will no doubt add value to our existing community institutions and create an environment conductive to the generation of economic growth throughout the 21st century," interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland said. "This infrastructure supports the development of the economy and increases our capacity for cultural participation beyond the usual limits imposed by our geography."
Sovernet is expected to complete the project by the end of this year, when about 340 community institutions will have access to the fiber network.
The project was funded with a $33.4 million federal grant, about $2 million in state money, and more than $12 million that Sovernet raised through private capital.
In Brattleboro 11 schools, three municipal facilities, Brooks Memorial Library, three healthcare sites, Brattleboro Community Television and eight state office sites will eventually all have access to the technology.
"Brooks Memorial Library with its daily demands of 19 public access computers and as many as 24 simultaneous wireless users needs fiber to satisfy customer demand," Brooks Memorial Library Director Jerry Carbone said. "In addition, as the library produces content such as live lectures, workshops and discussions we will be able to distribute this widely in real time using our Google video conference grant equipment, or partnering with our local community TV station. We would not be able to do this without Sovernet's fiber and the speeds it allows."
Sovernet Business Development Manager Gregg Noble said the company was able to apply for a special federal waiver that allowed Brattleboro Community Television, and other non-government institutions around the state, to be included in the fiber optic project.
"We were able to include many more locations that were not originally included in the grant," Noble said. "Windham County really benefited from that."
Along with BCTV, the Brooks House, Marlboro College and the supervisory union offices around the county were included in the new fiber system.
Noble said the robust fiber optic system delivers steady and reliable data.
"Most people have been shocked at the difference," he said. "There is a big difference."
BCTV Director Cor Trowbridge said the new technology has been startling at the station.
The fiber network allows BCTV to stream productions in real time, on the cable channel and over the Internet.
Videos are also uploaded and downloaded in minutes, when they used to take overnight to move.
She said the station tested the technology for the first time recently, streaming a hunger forum from Putney.
Using the station's YouTube channel, Trowbridge said hundreds of people were able to watch the forum and then send that link to other interested parties.
"We are very excited. This a real benefit to anyone who uses the station," she said. "This allows us to deliver video, and high quality video, with the speed that people have come to expect."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer