Fiber company coming through
To Gov. Peter Shumlin:
I would like to inform you about my experiences with ECFiber, the grass-roots fiber optic company that is moving like a connectivity storm through central Vermont. I run an independent cottage industry from my home that is based on computer technology. I design databases, some of which are connected to the web.
Before ECFiber, I had to hold off expanding my business to include web site development because my restricted access to the Internet made such work too slow to be competitive. Serving development or production databases was impossible.
I also have a son who attends an online high school in a program offered through one of the top universities in the country. He lives in Vermont and daily attends video conference classes, lectures, meetings, and myriad other communications online to California, and places all over the globe.
Two years ago, we moved out of state, renting a house elsewhere to get the Internet, because my son was not able to “talk in class.” His top speed and cost satellite connection bounced him out whenever he tried to participate, and his grades were going to suffer because of it. Last year, we rented an office in another town where Internet was available.
When ECFiber began to organize in Barnard, my town indicated that 90 percent would be on board with the plan as ECFiber laid it out to us.
I know about the various technologies. I follow this stuff, and fiber is the fastest, most reliable, and most forwardly positioned option available. Since 2008, ECFiber has stood at the ready with their promise to target the “least-served” first.
ECFiber is different from the others. I have attended meetings with ECFiber where they discussed in an extremely frank way the technical challenges, their abilities, their financial challenges, and their financial options. Their approach has been open and community-oriented. They just want to get it built, pay it off, and hand it over to the towns. They are willing to make things work, even if it is hard, even if it costs a little more in the short term, if it means they can serve the customer. Their priorities as expressed in the meetings were amazing to me. They really were trying to solve problems and make it work for people. I didn’t get the sense that profit plays a big role in this endeavor.
ECFiber asked us to talk to our neighbors to raise an investment to help build the lines out to our own houses. They told us what it costs them, and then they worked with us to see what could be done. They encouraged us to pool our resources so that neighborhoods, not just the wealthy, can receive the benefits of ECFiber.
ECFiber installed fiber to my house earlier than projected, with pleasant, local people, working with an ethic that is clearly customer-first. ECFiber means business. They are capable and willing. They make smart choices, can be innovative to solve problems, and they deliver.
I am impressed with ECFiber in so many ways, and I want you to understand what is happening. It is rare to find an organization with such a culture of know-how and customer focus, here or elsewhere.