The Vermont Telecommunications Authority (VTA) announced today its intention to fund a multi-provider fiber communications link between Newport and Hardwick. VTA funds in the amount of $500,000 for construction of the fiber link were authorized in Act 53 of the 2011-2012 legislative session. VTA intends to ensure that the design of the proposed facility will include fiber strands which can be used for middle-mile and last-mile broadband purposes, as called for in the authorizing legislation.‘The VTA has received strong expression of community support for the expansion of fiber optic facilities in the Northeast Kingdom,’ said VTA Executive Director Christopher Campbell. ‘This project will connect and extend existing and planned fiber networks in one of Vermont’s most rural regions.’The fiber link will be available to multiple communications service providers to serve key businesses and institutional customers, local cellular networks and for last-mile broadband expansion.In early November, the VTA received responses to an October 24, 2011 Notice of Grant Funding. The VTA has invited all respondents to the Notice to participate cooperatively in the engineering and development of the project, and to receive strands on the project in return for partial capital contributions to the construction of the project. VTA intends to convene a process with the providers shortly to begin the design of the project. Construction of the link between two important regional centers, will provide new communications opportunities for economic development and education, while enabling new expansions of last-mile broadband and cellular services.