Consolidated’s fiber expansion in Vermont gets a $9M boost

Consolidated Communications laid out plans to deploy fiber to more than 19,000 locations across Vermont next year, using a combination of its own money, federal funds and a state grant from the Vermont Community Broadband Board. The news comes as the operator hustles to expand its Fidium Fiber footprint at a rapid clip, aiming to reach a total of 2 million passings by the end of 2025.

The operator said in a press release it plans to invest $10.8 million to run fiber to 13,000 locations across Vermont in 2023. This rollout will be partially funded by federal money it won in 2020’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction. Consolidated snagged $19 million in the auction to help it cover more than 10,123 locations in Vermont, with the support set to be distributed over a 10-year period.

It is also teaming up with the Southern Vermont Communications Union District to tackle another 6,400 addresses. That project will be fueled by a $9 million state grant awarded to the District as well as a $3.3 million investment from Consolidated.

Christine Hallquist, executive director of the Vermont Community Broadband Board, said in a statement “This is an example of public-private partnerships that will ensure every Vermonter finally has reliable and low-cost connections needed to participate in the digital economy as well as provide public oversight and accountability."

While Consolidated did not name all of its build markets, it’s worth noting the District represents more than a dozen towns, including: Arlington, Bennington, Dorset, Landgrove, Londonderry, Manchester, Peru, Pownal, Rupert, Sandgate, Shaftsbury, Sunderland, Winhall and Woodford.

Consolidated previously said it was aiming to reach at least 400,000 new locations with fiber in 2022, including 265,000 passings in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. By the end of Q2, the operator completed a total of 226,000 passings. It reports Q3 earnings on November 1.