Ranked 47th in the US in terms of broadband access, Vermont is in the top five worst-connected states in the country. Despite being known for its forested landscape, Vermont does have fairly widespread high-speed internet coverage throughout the state. However, Vermont’s average download speed of 98.6 Mbps is on the low side when compared to other states, while the cost of internet is comparatively high.
The Digital Divide in Vermont
While the majority of Vermont’s population has access to high-speed internet, and a few are even able to get a low-priced monthly plan, there remains a significant demographic of Vermonters without access to these technological advantages. This inequality creates a “digital gap,” or divide, within Vermont.
For example, 91.2% of Vermont’s residents have access to wired a broadband connection with speeds of 25 Mbps or faster. Still, 25,000 people do not have a connection with such speeds available to them, and another 7,000 people do not have a wired connection available to them at all at their place of residence. Further, while 62 internet providers serve Vermont’s population, 90,000 residents only have access to one internet provider at their home, making it impossible to switch to another provider, should the need arise.
One notable factor that makes Vermont rank so low in comparison to the other states is the cost of internet for its residents. Affordability data reveals that only 1.1% of Vermonters have access to a low-priced internet plan. This means that almost 99% of the population is paying over $60 a month for internet services.
Although Vermont ranks poorly compared to other states, some cities within the state offer the best combination of price, coverage, and speed available to Vermonters. The top five best-connected cities in Vermont are Burlington, Bennington, Newport, Rutland, and South Burlington, with Burlington ranking highest in the state.
In contrast to the best cities in the state, the five cities with the worst internet connection in Vermont in terms of cost, download speeds, and availability are West Halifax, West Wardsboro, Eden Mills, Jacksonville, and East Dover, with West Halifax ranking lowest in the state.
Since 2010, over $3.5 million has been awarded to Vermont Center for Geographic Information, Inc. in federal grants to fund broadband data and development within the state. Working through BroadbandVT.org in conjunction with other partners, the program has created interactive broadband maps and works to “advance public knowledge about broadband expansion efforts, issues of the digital divide, and opportunities for change throughout our state.”
An additional $45,649,894 in federal grant funding has gone toward fueling broadband infrastructure expansion projects within Vermont.
In 2019, the Broadband Innovation Grant program was created by the state of Vermont with the goal “to help communities conduct feasibility studies and create business plans related to the deployment of broadband in rural, unserved and underserved areas of Vermont.”
The information above is taken from a mix of public and private datasets. More about our data here.