Vermont governor targets border-to-border wireless broadband coverage

U.S. governors began rolling out their political agendas this week in inaugural addresses delivered across the nation. And while many tied economic progress in their states to technology, none targeted the need for municipal broadband in general‚Äö?Ñ?Æand municipal wireless in particular‚Äö?Ñ?Æmore than Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas.U.S. governors began rolling out their political agendas this week in inaugural addresses delivered across the nation. And while many tied economic progress in their states to technology, none targeted the need for municipal broadband in general‚Äö?Ñ?Æand municipal wireless in particular‚Äö?Ñ?Æmore than Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas.

Douglas, a Republican entering his third term, titled his address The Vermont Way Forward. In it, he declared his intent to “provide universal cellular and broadband coverage everywhere and anywhere” by 2010.

In pursuit of that goal, Douglas proposed creating a Vermont Telecommunications Authority to partner with private firms in building “a next generation infrastructure that supports universal broadband and cellular coverage.” The Authority would float $40 million in bonds to leverage more than $200 million in private money and would serve as “a bridge between public sector efforts and private sector investments.” Douglas also proposed streamlining the permit process regarding rights of way and the use of state-owned structures to “balance our environmental values with the need to move rapidly.”

Raising a cell phone as a visual aid, Douglas predicted

the critical infrastructure for the future of Vermont will not much look like a car, a culvert or a bend in the road. It will look like this. In my hand there is wireless mobility, complete access and clear connections. In my hand is fairness and equity for all of Vermont. In my hand is both freedom and unity.

In three years, this phone will be capable of downloading email, images and video at speeds faster than most home broadband today. It will allow Vermonters to work from anywhere, anytime, unimpeded by spotty coverage, bad connections and the constant aggravation of dropped calls.

You can click here to read the full text of Douglas’ speech. For your convenience, below I’ve excerpted the portion of the text that deals with his proposed statewide wireless initiative.–Carol Ellison

We’ve made great strides in improving cellular coverage along main corridors, but large areas of Vermont still have no signal. Although in the last three years we’ve helped over 45,000 more homes and offices get access to broadband Internet so nearly 90 percent of Vermont homes have access the remaining 10 percent will take many more years to reach by traditional means.

While we take incremental steps to build a hard-wired network, the wireless world moves ahead. Homes that do not have broadband available are becoming increasingly difficult to sell. Entrepreneurs looking to start a new business will barely consider breaking ground in a community without good cellular coverage. Broadband Internet and wireless cellular are no longer mere conveniences afforded to urbanites or the well-heeled; they are a fundamental part of modern life for all Vermonters, as essential as electricity and good roads. This is the technological foundation of the Vermont Way Forward.

Thanks to the work we’ve done, Vermont is well positioned to leap over existing technology and support both broadband and cellular communications for the entire state.

Wireless communications and broadband Internet access are near the point of convergence, meaning the technologies that support each will be the same. More specifically, modern telecommunications will be based on Internet Protocol, or IP, a digital language that can support voice calls like cell phones and standard telephones as well as Internet communications such as email and web pages.

Building on these technological advances, I propose that by 2010, Vermont be the nation’s first true “e-state” — the first state to provide universal cellular and broadband coverage everywhere and anywhere within its borders. When you turn on your laptop, you’re connected. When you hit the send button on your cell phone, the call goes through. There would be no more endless downloads, no more hopeless hellos, and no more “can you hear me now.”

This goal is within our grasp if we move quickly and decisively during this legislative session.

The benefits of an “e-state” are evident to current and prospective employers. It represents meaningful connections within Vermont and with the vast world outside. Whether it means a construction worker can receive a business call at a remote job site, a bed and breakfast can offer guests wireless cellular and broadband, a feed store can order new inventory online or a small mail-order business can cut calling costs, our “e-state” strategy establishes the platform for success across all sectors of the economy.

The advantages of a state-of-the-art telecommunications platform extend well beyond the economic value of the Vermont Way Forward. A true “e-state” enhances our public safety network, extends the reach of health care, and improves the education of young Vermonters.

Ever-present cellular coverage will give residents and visitors an extra measure of protection and provide a communications network where police officers of one town can talk to firefighters of another.

The emergence of telemedicine, made possible by our universal broadband network, will offer dramatically enhanced monitoring services to chronically ill patients and the elderly. Vermonters with chronic conditions will be able to transmit information instantly to their doctors, who can respond to anomalies or alarming trends.

Vermont is fast becoming a leader in health care innovation, led by Catamount Health and the Blueprint for Health. While our best-in-the-nation broadband network can never replace the compassionate touch of our health care providers, it will make available to them the most
modern tools to improve quality and reduce costs.
The education of our children is the single most important and lasting impact of our “e-state” initiative. Affordable broadband services provide every child with access to the educational resources of the best schools and libraries throughout the world, as well as offering continuing education opportunities for lifelong learners.

Teachers and students would have at their fingertips a world’s worth of educational resources. Whether it’s online classes, tutorials to supplement classroom learning or Internet video links with other classrooms throughout the world, our network will firmly establish Vermont as the best place to live and raise a family.”

Comments

  1. Brilliant. Vermont’s Governor Jim Douglas is absolutely right.

  2. […] Well it seems that the state of Vermont is progressive on several fronts. According to this story in MuniWireless, the third term governor, Jim Douglas, has made one of his goals to provide statewide cellular and wi-fi coverage by the year 2010. According to the article Douglas proposed creating a Vermont Telecommunications Authority to partner with private firms in building ‚Äúa next generation infrastructure that supports universal broadband and cellular coverage.‚Äù The Authority would float $40 million in bonds to leverage more than $200 million in private money and would serve as ‚Äúa bridge between public sector efforts and private sector investments.‚Äù Douglas also proposed streamlining the permit process regarding rights of way and the use of state-owned structures to ‚Äúbalance our environmental values with the need to move rapidly.‚Äù […]

  3. Absolutely Brilliant in every way. Go for it, Vermont!

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