|Thursday, 01 December 2011 00:00|
Montpelier — The Vermont Telecommunications Authority (VTA) has announced its intention to negotiate contracts with two companies for the purposes of expanding cellular service in unserved Target Corridors and Drop Zones. The companies, Vanu CoverageCo, based in Cambridge, MA, and VTel Wireless, based in Springfield, VT, each responded to the VTA’s Request for Proposals (RFP) for Providing Cellular Service in Unserved Vermont Communities, issued in September 2011. The VTA Board of Directors authorized the Authority’s staff to seek contracts with each of the firms. Each of the companies is seeking to develop new networks that would allow cellular users to benefit from improved coverage through the companies’ roaming relationships with major cellular operators.
“While this does not represent a final funding decision, it is an important step along the path to the deployment of state capital appropriations to expand cellular service in Vermont,” said Christopher Campbell, Executive Director of the VTA. Prior steps included a Request for Public Comment, issued in June 2011, which led to and informed the RFP.
Vanu CoverageCo is an affiliate of Vanu, Inc., a developer of software-defined radio equipment which supports the deployment of multiple standards used by cellular operators on a single platform. Vanu CoverageCo seeks to provide wholesale service to multiple cellular carriers that allow those carriers to expand cellular service to their customers. With Vanu CoverageCo, VTA is seeking to fund a deployment consisting of micro-cell equipment along unserved Target Corridors, mounted on utility pole tops or other available existing structures.
“In rural or mountainous areas, coverage is often not cost-effective with conventional technology,” said Vanu CoverageCo’s Executive Chairman, Barry West. “Using multi-standard network equipment and a wholesale business model, CoverageCo has employed unique technologies and business methods to address this challenge. We look forward to the opportunity to provide rural Vermont with cost-effective cellular coverage using American-made software-defined radio technology from Vanu, Inc. We think Vermont will be a model for other states to follow.”
VTel Wireless is an affiliate of Vermont Telephone Company (VTel), a local telephone and Internet services provider in southern Vermont, also operating a fiber optic network in the Northeast U.S. and Canada. VTel Wireless is the recipient of a major American Recovery and Reinvestment Act award to build a 4G/LTE wireless data network across rural Vermont, which will provide data to every town in Vermont, although not necessarily every home in every town. VTel Wireless seeks to add support for 2G/3G cellular voice and data services to its planned Wireless Open World (WOW) network. With VTel, VTA is focusing on infrastructure and equipment to enable VTel to augment its WOW network with voice services along significant travel corridors that currently contain “Drop Zones.” VTel is also seeking to provide a new retail cellular offer to residents and businesses in the state.
“VTel continues working tirelessly to bring Vermonters the best fiber optic and 4G wireless broadband services available globally,” said Ted Abrams, Executive Vice President of VTel Wireless. “We are excited that the VTA funding announced today will enable us to also offer cellular voice capability to many Vermonters in underserved areas.”
“Cellular coverage holes are one of the most significant and frustrating gaps in Vermont’s telecommunications services.” said Karen Marshall, Chief of Connect VT and a VTA board member, “We expect to devote a significant portion of the VTA state capital appropriation to close these holes. We are pleased to have received a number of very positive and innovative responses to the RFP, and we look forward to the opportunity to move from proposals to improved services for Vermonters within the coming year.”
The VTA Board authorized staff to negotiate contracts in amounts not to exceed $4 million for Vanu CoverageCo and $2.4 million for VTel Wireless, although final awards and funding amounts will be the subject of contract negotiations between the parties involved.