Thursday May 30, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

ARLINGTON -- Vtel Wireless Inc. is working on a project this summer using an existing grain silo to provided high speed wireless Internet access to the West Arlington and Sandgate areas. It will lay the groundwork for cell phone access in 2014, according to the company.

John Caceres, director of marketing for Vtel, said the project is at the Nolan Farm on River Road and is slated to be complete within the year. Once finished that area will have access to a "4G/LTE" network. Caceres said on average customers should be able to download an average of 10 to 12 megabits of data at a time as well as upload that much. He said peaks may be up to 50 megabits.

He said this project will not provide the cell phone service workers in that area have desired, but it will lay the groundwork for that type of coverage in the future.

Last June the Public Service Board issued a "certificate of public good" for the project. According to the certificate, "nine panel antennas of varying sizes" will be installed 56 feet up the silo along with two dish antennas. An equipment cabinet will also be installed at the base of the 70-foot silo. The antennas will not extend above the silo or farther out than 10 feet. Nothing about the silo itself would change.

In September of last year, Vtel announced it was awarded a $1,347,840 grant from the Vermont Telecommunications Authority to expand broadband coverage into unserved or underserved areas. Vtel intends to provide service in a number of communities, among them Arlington and Bennington.

Caceres said the Arlington area is outside what Vtel normally covers. The company has also been phasing out copper lines and installing fiber optic cables, however, the Arlington project does not involve the running of new cable. Once the service is available people in that area will be notified.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.