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Wi-Fi and Broadband Spreading Through Vermont


by Alex Rose

Waterbury, Vt.- Some people are attached to their phones, and connecting to Wi-Fi on your Smartphone, brings the internet to our fingertips.

"Internet access is a basic need for participation in the economic life, civic life, social life, educational and health care opportunities," said Executive Director of the Vermont Telecommunications Authority Chris Campbell.

To connect people, the Vermont Digital Economy Project has been setting up hotspots for small towns across the state, using federal money.

"We're focusing on areas that really could use some extra help, and have shown a commitment to moving forward," said Network and Outreach Coordinator for Vermont Digital Economic Project Caitlin Lovegrove.

The Wi-Fi, called the "Vermont Connection" is for towns that suffered from flood damage from Hurricane Irene.

On Thursday, Waterbury was the latest community to activate it.

"The idea being if someone stops to check their email, they see that there's free Wi-Fi, they get redirected to the landing page that tells them more about the town that they're stopped in, and hopefully they say, 'oh I could stay here for lunch,'" Lovegrove said.

So far 24 towns have free public Wi-Fi through the program, and that's not the only development for Vermont communication.

Verizon Wireless is bringing its XLTE services to the Burlington and Rutland areas, so if you have the proper device and are using data outside, you'll be able to communicate faster. If you're streaming video, there'll be less buffer time.

Vermont's Telecommunications Authority has also been improving where you can communicate with your phone by building more infrastructure.

"We've also focused on expanding cellular access, so mobility in a different way, as well as improving access to broadband,” Campbell said.

As the technology evolves, so does these future projects, and their expectations.

The state has big plans on how to increase download speeds even more. Their target goal is to have Enhanced 911 services and residential locations to have download speeds up to 100 mega bits per second by 2024.

Those plans need to be finalized by December 15th, 2014.