Senate Advances Bill That Would Promote Statewide Broadband

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(Host) The Vermont Senate advanced legislation this morning aimed at boosting development of cell phone and broadband service around the state.

The bill relaxes regulatory and environmental oversight for companies trying to put up telecommunications facilities. The goal is to have full statewide coverage by the end of 2013.

That’s three years after the Douglas Administration’s original deadline to roll out high speed Internet and cell phone coverage. That goal was set in 2007, when the Legislature created the Vermont Telecommunications Authority.

But Essex Orleans Senator Vince Illuzzi told the Senate this morning that the VTA has failed, and the state needs to launch a new effort to coordinate private projects with federal funding.

(Illuzzi) "The VTA has been one colossal failure. And our committee in developing this bill contemplated repealing the VTA. It is no longer a leader. It is no longer a coordinator."

(Host) The legislation does not repeal the authority, but it does limit its powers. The bill also directs state agencies to work with communications companies to build out broadband and cell services.

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