Posts Tagged ‘rural broadband’

Low Tech Internet Expansion

April 19, 2016

While building out the infrastructure for a broadband network is generally a high tech affair, in Vermont, it is exactly the opposite. In fact, it even harkens back to the days where there was nothing but horsepower available in order to do much of the work. And there is plenty of work to be done in Vermont in order to build out broadband services. Currently, the state ranks 46thout of the fifty in terms of connectivity. Much of this is because Vermont is covered with numerous small towns and communities that are separated by mountainous terrain which makes it difficult to run the proper wiring. In fact, some parts of the state are so rural they were without electricity until 1964. But one team consisting of man and beast is slowly working to bring all of Vermont online.With a contract to FairPoint Communications, an aging Belgian draft horse named Fred is part of a team bringing internet to all corners of Vermont by 2013. The horse, which is fourteen years old, and his owner, Claude Desmarais have been working seven days a week, 365 days a year in order to haul miles of fiber optic cables and then rig it to telecommunication lines. Much of this work being done by Fred and Claude is currently taking place in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, but there are other man and horse teams operating in other parts of the state.Officials with FairPoint Communications say the work the teams are doing is invaluable because they can reach hard to access jobs along country roads which may be too bulky utility trucks to navigate. In fact, Claude and Fred can do the work of about fifteen guys and pull 5,000 feet of cable with little to no problems.Sometimes Fred and Claude will work together with other FairPoint employees. Fred will tug a length of cable from a truck mounted reel and when it rises to a lineman he will then loop it through a lasher or device that slides along the line. By using this method, the cable is able to be linked together.Many of the residents also seem to appreciate this method of having Fred and Claude string the lines along. The pair will do much less damage to the surrounding area than a bulldozer or backhoe would do. In addition, the draft team can work throughout the harsh Vermont winters when snow can reach four or five feet in height. Fred can plow through it easily as Claude tries to stay warm.This movement is part of Governor Peter Shumlin’s Connect VT initiative which is trying to help the state catch up to the rest of the United States and the world, in general. In fact, the governor is promising more than $410 million in private, federal, and bonded capital for the broadband expansion project. Three companies are working together in order to bring high speed and affordable broadband internet to all of Vermont’s 620,000 residents who need coverage.