The St. Johnsbury Select Board has added two more representatives to the Northeast Kingdom Communications Union District (CUD).
The CUD is working to bring full broadband internet service to the NEK.
On Monday, the board appointed St. Johnsbury residents Bobbie L. Wagner — who works for IBM — and Computer Network Engineer Keith W. Whitemore as alternates to the town’s CUD representative, Nicolas Anzalone.
Anzalone, who works as a software developer, said it’s still early, but the CUD effort is going well.
“This is a massive and long-term undertaking,” said Anzalone in email response to questions on Tuesday. “We are routinely collecting and analyzing feedback from just about anyone who is showing enough interest to provide it.”
Anzalone also said the NEK’s need for full broadband coverage was highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic which required many to work and attend school from home.
“I think it is important not to lose sight of the fact that we could have been better prepared for this moment on a whole bunch of different levels,” said Anzalone. “For broadband in particular, if we had invested more responsibly in connectivity over the last 10 years, the impact of poor connectivity during this pandemic would not be so pronounced.”
According to Anzalone, the CUD is currently exploring many different opportunities.
“We are evaluating potential partners and revenue sources, and we have an RFP out to initiate a feasibility study to help us understand more rigorously what current service looks like in the NEK and where there are opportunities for us to focus our efforts to have the biggest sustainable impact on our region, “ said Anzalone.
“We have also been actively providing feedback to the state legislature on how to balance meeting immediate critical needs without sacrificing longer-term goals and infrastructure that will serve us into the future,” said Anzalone.
The CUD has also developed a Mission Statement, Service Goals and Operating Principles and is exploring a possible hybrid public/private model for the district.