Greensboro, Hardwick, News, Walden

NEK Broadband Build Progresses

WALDEN, GREENSBORO, HARDWICK — Residents have been wondering about fiber optic construction crews along and near Vermont Route 15 in Walden since late in 2023. More recently crews in Greensboro have been replacing telephone poles. Hal Gray, Gazette community journalist has shared photos of the crews at work.

courtesy NEK Broadband
NEK Broadband Walden service now available (in green) and under construction (in light blue) with service coming in 2024 shown in gray.

“Hardwick, Walden, Greensboro, and Wolcott have all contributed town ARPA dollars to accelerate the build of high-speed broadband internet. As a result, you are seeing trucks doing NEK Broadband work in these areas,” reports Tonya Ozone, NEK Broadband director of sales and marketing, who adds, “In parts of Hardwick and Walden, crews are working on constructing the fiber network. Bucket trucks are attaching fiber to utility poles and then the process will be to splice the cables together and connect them to the NEK Broadband power cabinet in Walden.”

In late December NEK Broadband announced that it had completed construction to add some Walden addresses as part of an additional 700 added to its fiber optic internet service network before year-end. Company maps show those addresses along the southeastern portion of Walden Mountain Road as it enters Walden from Danville.

The organization’s 2023 annual report shows service was available to 2,352 addresses in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom serviced by their 203 mile fiber optic cable network.

“We’re so pleased to end 2023 by giving more residents of the NEK access to high-speed internet,” said Christa Shute, NEK Broadband’s executive director. “We plan to bring even more residents online in early 2024.”

The newly launched areas have been funded by federal grants administered through the Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB).

courtesy NEK Broadband
NEK Broadband service coming in 2024 to Greensboro shown in gray around Caspian Lake and toward East Craftsbury.

Ozone says, “This represents a milestone in the journey towards bringing reliable, high-speed internet to your community and there is more to do. Once we have lit up the power cabinet, the next step is testing the network to ensure quality of service. In some neighborhoods of Walden, the testing is underway.

“Some residents will start seeing service in the summer while some residents may not have access until the fall.

“Design and engineering are now complete in parts of Hardwick, Greensboro, and Wolcott. Hardwick Electric is working on preparing the poles for the fiber. Though it is currently difficult to predict, construction is expected to commence in late May with service available in the fall for some locations and into 2025 for other locations.”

photo by Hal Gray
The auger truck of Charles Curtis LLC of Danville, just completing installation on April 1 of a taller utility pole on French Hill on The Bend Road (beside St. Michaels Catholic Church) for handling broadband service, in addition to lines for electric power and telephone service.

NEK Broadband’s Hardwick Town Meeting Day update by Paul Fixx shared that, “We expect construction to start on Hopkins Hill Road and West Hill Road. Service to Hardwick’s West Hill Road Emergency Services Repeater will be available sooner through a cooperative agreement with Kingdom Fiber, now serving addresses along Route 14 and in Craftsbury.

“Sections along Routes 15, 16 and Bridgemen Hill Road will be able to start construction this summer.”

The company’s high-speed internet is carried through fiber optic cable with speed levels from 50 Mbps to one gigabyte. There are no data caps and uploading is as fast as downloading.

“Bringing reliable high-speed broadband internet to the most rural areas of Vermont is not an easy task,” says Ozone. “Completing our mission of ensuring that every address with existing electric utility service in the Northeast Kingdom and Wolcott has access to reliable and high-speed broadband internet will take several years.

“We are committed to this mission because improved internet access unlocks boundless opportunities for education, telemedicine, remote work, and entrepreneurship, bridging the digital divide and ensuring equitable access to information and resources for all NEK residents.

“All of the revenue generated by NEK Broadband services is reinvested in their member communities through investments such as infrastructure or assistance to income-sensitive households.”

Ozone says that “residents can now select a speed package for service at”

Gazette Editor, Paul Fixx is NEK Community Broadband’s board chair.

Paul Fixx is editor of The Hardwick Gazette and lives in Hardwick.

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