Town of St. Albans, VT

Two Vermont Communication Union Districts (CUDs) Join Forces to Forge a Promising Path Forward with Unique Fiber Broadband Model

A Communications Union District (CUD) is an organization of two or more towns that join together as a municipal entity to build communication infrastructure together.

The CUD is currently funded using State and Federal grants, commercial loans, and revenue bonding.  Once operational the CUD will be sustained by network revenue.

WHY ARE WE PART OF A CUD?  CUDs are a vehicle to access state and federal funds. More importantly, CUDs serve as an alternative to relying on the incumbent providers to solve Vermont's broadband inequity.

 WHAT IS THE MODEL?  NWFX will build, own, and maintain a FTTP (Fiber-to-the-Premise) open-access network. This network will universally serve every home/business that is currently not connected to a fiber network. The network creates a marketplace for retail ISPs, telehealth providers, 5G providers, enterprise, schools, towns, or other entities. Particularly for retail ISPs, the network will allow users to choose their own service providers, not limited to just one option.

WHAT WILL I HAVE TO PAY?​  Under our model, you will pay: Internet service fee + Infrastructure Fee.  The infrastructure fee is essential for the CUD to maintain and operate the network. The total cost to the consumer is far below other ISP providers for similar services.

CAN I OPT-OUT OF GETTING CUD INTERNET?  There is no commitment to join. The CUD is simply building a network past your home/business.

WHEN WILL WE START GETTING FIBER?​  ​It is projected that NWFX will begin construction in 2022.

​No — under this model, the CUD is not becoming a competitive ISP.

HOW DO I GET MY HOUSEHOLD CONNECTED TO CUD INTERNET?  You would place an order with a on-network retail ISP. The ISP or contractor from the CUD will then be scheduled to connect your home to the network. The retail ISP will supply all necessary equipment (ONT & WiFi router) to get you connected.

WHAT ARE SOME SUCCESSFUL MODELS AROUND THE COUNTRY WHICH FOLLOW MUCH OF THE SAME PATH AS THE NWCUD?  While less common in the US, the model for building an underlying network and allowing ISPs to leverage it for delivering services is growing in interest.  Operators like Utopia Fiber, SiFi Networks, and municipalities like the City Of Ammon, ID all operate successful open-access fiber networks.

WHY GOOGLE FIBER?​  There was a solid alignment of ideals, a willingness to be on an open-access network, and they are a highly reputable fiber ISP. Having Google Fiber as our first retail ISP enables NWFX to build the fiber network throughout the district sooner and more cost-effectively. 

WHAT IS GOOGLE FIBER'S RATES?​  Although Google Fiber's pricing is subject to change, they commit to service pricing on par with their other served markets.  
$70 – 1Gig
$100 – 2Gigs
$30 – 100/100 Mbps (Economically disadvantages) ($30 FCC broadband subsidy)

DO I NEED TO PAY EXTRA FOR EQUIPMENT? All Google Fiber service plans include equipment (Fiber Jack, router, Wi-Fi) at no extra cost. You’re welcome to use your own router with Google Fiber 1 Gig plans. Google Fiber 2 Gig requires the use of the custom Google Fiber Multi-Gig Router to achieve top speeds.

DOES MY TOWN JOINING MEAN I PAY EXTRA TAXES?  No, as stated in 30 VSA § 3056, CUDs do not have the power to levy, assess, apportion, or collect any tax upon property within the district, nor upon any of its members.

HOW MANY EMPLOYEES DOES THE CUD HAVE? WHAT ARE THEIR SALARIES? WHAT PAYS THOSE SALARIES?  At this time the NWCUD employees 2 FTE and 1 PTE.  Annual budgets including salaries are approved by the NWCUD Governing Board in accordance with 30 V.S.A. § 3075.  Annual budgets are sent to each member community along with the CUD Annual Report.  Found Here  Staff and operations are currently funded by Act 71 - Broadband Preconstruction Grant Program.

​HOW MANY MORE STAFF MEMBERS WILL BE REQUIRED, ESPECIALLY WHEN CONSTRUCTION BEGINS? It is not within our operational plan to expand our current staffing needs.  NWCUD plans to work closely with and contract expert consultants and fiber network management organizations.  

WHAT DOES SYMMETRICAL INTERNET MEAN?  ​Internet connection with upload and download speeds that are the same. With increased demand from smart home & energy efficiency devices, remote working & learning, and telemedicine, upload speed is becoming as important as download speed. Symmetrical connections ensure your upload speeds aren't strained due to high use.

IS MY HOME CONSIDERED UNDERSERVED?  The FCC definition is any home without at least 25/3 Mbps. (7836 in NWCUD). However, NWFX feels that the benchmark is dated and that any home that doesn't currently have a fiber connection with at least 100/20 Mbps is underserved.