(Host) The telecommunications company V-Tel wants to begin offering television along with telephone and Internet service.
The Springfield company says it needs to provide cable before it can extend high speed Internet to much of Vermont.
VPR’s Susan Keese has more.
(Keese) VTel was picked by the Rural Utilities Service to receive stimulus grants totaling $116 million for its ambitious broadband rollout. The award was announced last August.
Company representative Sharon Combes-Farr says VTel worked all winter on its engineering plans and hopes to start construction this summer. The project has to be complete by the end of 2013.
Combes Farr says the company closed last month with the Rural Utilities Service on the grant.
(Combes-Farr) "And then we proceeded to go through all the steps that we needed to go through in order to get to the release of funds so that we could move forward and the Certificate of Public Good on video was sort of the last major item that we needed to do in order to satisfy those requirements."
(Keese) The Shumlin administration, which represents consumer interests, has filed a memorandum with the Public Service Board supporting VTel’s request.
(Porter) "In this instance we certainly hope that this petition will receive expedited review."
(Keese) Jim Porter handles telecom issues for the administration. He says his agency has worked with VTel to make sure its filings follow the law and he believes it is in the public interest to allow the company to offer cable.
(Porter) "They will offer an alternative for people in their service areas for people that already have cable service and it will offer a good many people the opportunity for cable for the first time."
(Keese) The VTel project has two parts. One involves building an extensive wireless network expected to reach even remote areas. The other will extend fiber optic cable to Vtel’s existing telephone customers in about 14 central Vermont exchange areas.
VTel’s television service, if approved, will apply only to its current service area in south-central Vermont.
For VPR News, I’m Susan Keese