Internet use

MONTPELIER — Vermonters for whom high speed internet access is just out of reach may be eligible for up to $3,000 in assistance to pay for extending service to their homes.

The Dept. of Public Service (DPS) has launched a Line Extension Customer Assistance Program (LECAP), with $2 million in total funding available.

“We know how important access to reliable internet has been during this pandemic,” said Governor Phil Scott. “While expanding access has been a longstanding challenge in Vermont, I appreciate the efforts of the Public Service Department team, the legislature and many private partners to help get more Vermonters connected. This assistance program is another step forward in this challenging work, which is critical to increasing equity in education heading into our school reopening this fall.”

This program was passed through Act 137 and uses funding from the federal CARES Act intended to address COVID-19 related needs.

To qualify, recipients must demonstrate that they have COVID-related need such as remote learning, working from home or telehealth, and lack access to an internet connection that has download speeds of at least 25Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps.

The funding may be used to pay for line extension costs, but not monthly fees or equipment rental.

“For the teacher or student living at the end of the dirt road with no internet access, the LECAP could be a lifeline,” said June Tierney, commissioner of Public Service. “This is a great opportunity for qualifying Vermonters who need broadband service but have not been able to afford the full cost of a line extension.”

“Hundreds of Vermonters without 25/3 Mbps broadband service live just out of the reach of current cable and other Internet Service Providers’ networks,” DPS said in a written statement. “Extending these networks to unserved and underserved areas can be expensive and the full cost can be unaffordable for those looking to take this step.”

For details about how to qualify for the LECAP, Vermonters should call the department at 800-622-4496 or visit the department’s Line Extension Customer Assistance Program webpage. All line extensions funded through this program must be completed on or before Dec. 30, 2020. Additional information can be accessed at https://publicservice.vermont.gov.

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