Survey shows more people dissatisfied with broadband service, even though more have it

Vermont had broadband issues before the pandemic.

But over the past couple of years, this problem has become even more prevalent, as so much of our lives have moved online.

According to the latest VPR-Vermont PBS poll, more people say lack of broadband is a problem today, compared to the poll we did in 2019.

And that increase came even as more Vermonters were able to get good service in their homes.

Full Part January 2, 2022 VPR-Vermont PBS Poll Results

Major Munson lives in the city of Georgia, Franklin County, and his internet service is not good.

“It’s a problem, because there’s only one server serving my area,” Munson said. “And the internet speed is super, super slow.”

Munson was one of the Vermonters who took part in the last survey, and he says he and his family have kind of gotten used to the inadequate service, frustrating as it is.

But over the past two years, slow broadband speeds have really caught up with them.

Since her partner’s office closed due to COVID, she’s had to go find faster service in nearby Milton at a Dunkin’ or McDonald’s.

And while her children’s school streamed sporting events from which parents were excluded, Munson was able to get only spotty glimpses of her sons’ hockey and soccer games.

“With my kids’ sporting events, the fans – we’re not allowed to go,” he said. “And so they gave us an app to download so we could stream it to our TV. But because my internet service is so slow, I’ve missed the majority of every game in the last two years that I’ve been watching. been allowed to watch online.

More than Brave little state: What is Vermont doing to improve broadband access?

When VPR-Vermont PBS conducted a survey in 2019, about 20% of respondents said high-speed internet access was a problem.

When we asked the same question in our last poll, the number jumped to almost 30%, even though more people in the state have access to the service.

“I think the value of internet service has increased during the pandemic,” said Clay Purvis, director of telecommunications at the Vermont Department of Public Service. “I think people were probably using the internet in ways that they weren’t using before the pandemic. And realized that they’re going to need more than, you know, a basic DSL to do a lot of the things that they were required to do, because of their employer, because of their children’s education, because of the needs educational.

According to the Department of Public Service, the number of Vermont residents with access to high-speed service is almost 70% higher than it was when VPR-Vermont PBS conducted its previous survey.

But at the time, only 6% of respondents said it was a major problem not having service. That number more than doubled in the recent survey.

“I think the value of internet service has increased during the pandemic.”

Clay Purvis, director of telecommunications at the Vermont Department of Public Service

Purvis says that before COVID, people used their internet service at home to check email or watch a movie, and over the past two years adequate broadband service has become more necessary.

“And it’s probably going to stay that way,” Purvis said. “Because I think we all realize it’s not much fun being on Zoom all day, but it sure is convenient.”

According to a recent survey, people are dissatisfied with their statewide high-speed internet service, with the largest group living in northern Vermont.

The state hopes to finally connect these addresses to high-speed Internet service in the coming years using an unprecedented windfall of federal money.

“As we approach the 2022 construction season, we are going to have our plans to connect all addresses in Vermont,” said Christine Hallquist, executive director of the Vermont Community Broadband Board.

Hallquist recently told a House committee that even though Vermont has about $350 million in federal support for broadband, there’s still a funding gap to connect every home and every business over the next five coming years.

Natalie Cosgrove

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Vermont PBS

Although more Vermont addresses have high-speed Internet in Vermont, two polls conducted in 2019 and 2022 show that more people are dissatisfied with their broadband access now than they were before the pandemic.

About 30% of the state lacks adequate broadband service. The greatest need is in the Northeastern Kingdom.

But help is on the way.

About 200 towns in Vermont have signed up with a Nearby Communications Union District, or CUD.

CUDs are non-profit organizations, through which small towns that have been ignored by for-profit corporations band together to raise funds, hire staff and help build broadband infrastructure.

Will Anderson works with an association that represents all CUDs in the state.

Anderson says they will seek more state funding because if CUDs have to borrow money to build networks, it will be harder for low-income households to access the service.

“For us, the key to affordable service is being able to provide universal service at the best possible price, through subsidies,” Anderson said. “Where we incur debt is where we have to charge more for tariffs to customers, and that’s the last thing we want to do.”

Anderson said a labor shortage is another big challenge that could slow construction.

But he said most CUDs in the state will be able to begin construction this year.

Do you have questions, comments or advice? Send us a message or contact journalist Howard Weiss-Tisman @hweisstisman.

A logo with the words VPR + Vermont PBS 2022 Polls, with a small blue and green bar graph

Natalie Cosgrove

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Vermont PBS

From January 3-9, the VPR-Vermont PBS 2022 poll polled hundreds of Vermonters on their views on climate change, broadband, dairy and more. Check out the second part of the results here. The first part of the results was published in January.

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