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ECFiber Connects 600th Customer

South Royalton — The East Central Vermont Community Fiber Optic Network connected its 600th customer last week, and by the end of the year the fiber-optic network will be extended over 200 miles with the capacity to connect 2,000 homes and businesses, the community-owned group announced last week.

By the end of the year, ECFiber, a coalition of 24 towns, will have service in Barnard, Bethel, Chelsea, Norwich, Pomfret, Randolph, Royalton, Sharon, Strafford, Thetford, Tunbridge and Vershire, a news release says.

In 2015, the service will be expanded to West Windsor and Reading, Vt.

ECFiber’s expansion has been facilitated by the Vermont Telecom Authority’s Orange County Fiber Connector, which passes through Chelsea, Vershire, West Fairlee, Thetford, Strafford and Sharon.

“In addition to offering us the possibility to connect more than 500 homes and business along the route, the (Orange County connector) will enable the interconnection of our remote hubs, allowing us to purchase more bandwidth and offer higher throughput to our subscribers,” said Stan Williams, chief financial officer and interim chief executive officer of ValleyNet, the Vermont nonprofit charged with operating ECFiber.

“By the end of the year, we expect to make available even more robust Internet service, at the 40 Mbps level by mid-year and ramping up to 100 Mbps by early 2015. These levels of connectivity enable efficient telecommuting, distance learning and distance medicine for rural areas that otherwise are being left behind,” he said in the release.

ECFiber also announced that ValleyNet has hired Tom Lyons as its Chief Operating Officer.

Lyons has more than 20 years of telecommunications experience at Sovernet and several other firms in Vermont and New Hampshire. He received his bachelors of arts degree from University of Vermont in 1990.

“Tom has excellent telecommunications skills and local experience, having spent the early part of his career expanding and then selling Sovernet, and he also brings experience with several other telecom startups,” Williams said.

“I’ve known Tom since Sovernet purchased ValleyNet’s dial up accounts in 2006, and I look forward to working with him to continue to expand and improve ECFiber.”

ECFiber held meeting last week in Strafford and Norwich to update residents on the network’s progress and future goals. More meetings will be scheduled in other towns.