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VTel to Give New Customers Free Google Chromebooks

Springfield, Vt. — Vermont Telephone Company is working with Google to provide free Google-brand laptops and digital literacy training to 400 Vermont homes, with a focus on low-income households and senior citizens who are new to the Internet, according to a news release.

The VTel-Google Chrome program offers eligible new VTel customers a free Google Chromebook and digital literacy sessions taught by a VTel trainer. The program is intended to help Vermonters make the transition to a broadband culture, according to the release.

“As we build out our network in Vermont we take very seriously our responsibility to help Vermonters learn to leverage the power of the Internet in their lives,” VTel’s vice president of business development, Diane Guité, said in the release. “We are grateful to Google for partnering with us to help Vermonters get the most from our network, and safely get started online.”

Chromebooks are lightweight laptops designed to be “safe, simple, secure and convenient,” according to the release, making them a good fit for the program.

“Because everyone logs on with their own unique account, and applications and data are not stored on a hard drive, users do not have to worry about updates or downloading viruses,” it said.

More than 90 Chromebooks have been distributed in VTel’s service territory and more than 2,000 of the digital literacy training programs, called “VTel Rural Technology Farm Forums,” have taken place in the past two years.

The Federal Communications Commission selected VTel in 2013 as one of 12 companies nationwide to experiment with offering $10/month Lifeline Internet to qualified households, and the VTel-Google Chrome partnership “further augments that program.”

VTel’s GigE billion-bit-per-second fiber-to-the-home project, coupled with statewide 4GLTE broadband, is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service.

Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell said it was “great” that seniors and lower income school children could access and be trained to understand “the online world.”