Northeast Kingdom residents who have been waiting years for access to high-speed internet are a bit closer

Northeast Kingdom residents who have been waiting years for access to high-speed internet are a bit closer as state and local officials celebrated the recent allocation of over $16 million in construction aid.  The bulk of which will go to NEK Broadband, the communications union district serving the NEK and Wolcott. Gov. Scott and Rep. Peter Welch joined the Vermont Community Broadband Board to announce the construction grants made to NEK Broadband and Waitsfield Champlain Valley Telecom by the VCCB during an event on Monday. NEK Broadband received the first grant approved by the Vermont Community Broadband Board, which was created last year and is the conduit through which federal and state dollars, much of it from pandemic recovery funds, will flow. The Board unanimously approved the $15.9 million grant in late April. The funding will allow NEK Broadband to construct 215 miles of network beginning this summer, passing almost 1500 under, or un-served households along the way. Early construction will be concentrated in Concord, Kirby and Waterford, with additional miles expected in Brighton, Burke, East Haven, Lyndon, Newark, Sutton and Wheelock. NEK Broadband’s overall plan is to build nearly 2,800 miles of fiber optic cable-based internet for residents and businesses in the Northeast Kingdom. “This $16 million is the first batch of up to $104 million in necessary grant funding for the $184 million project, and made possible by volunteer time, efforts and involvement from NEK Broadband board members, as well as all towns in Orleans, Caledonia, and Essex counties and the town of Wolcott.”