Christine Hallquist made a strong but unintentional cargument for universal broadband on Thursday. The former utility executive and gubernatorial candidate is now working to bring broadband to northern Vermont, as administrator for NEK Community Broadband and for Lamoille FiberNet.
Hallquist was a witness at a Thursday hearing on broadband, appearing, as is everyone, via Zoom. And her testimony was delayed by several minutes because of trouble with her Starlink internet connection.
Once she finally managed to be heard, Hallquist made a strong case for achieving universal broadband through the “communication union districts” around the state, including her own.
(She also wins the imaginary “See, I Told You So” award. Several years ago, she was talking up the electric utility infrastructure as the best, easiest and cheapest delivery system for broadband. Lo and behold, that’s the backbone for getting high-speed internet to every corner of the state.)
Broadband is no longer an unrealized dream but a near-future reality, thanks to the Covid pandemic. With many Vermonters working and schooling their children from home, broadband suddenly became a necessity. And the federal government’s Covid relief packages have injected billions into the nationwide broadband project, with hundreds of millions flowing into Vermont’s effort.
But the devil is in the details, and those details are being worked out right now in the Legislature. Anyone interested in broadband should be paying close attention, and giving their lawmakers an earful.Continue reading