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ECFiber Network Triples In Size

South Royalton — ECFiber, the East Central Vermont Community Fiber Network, has tripled its fiber-optic network this year, bringing ultra-high-speed Internet service to underserved areas on the Vermont side of the Upper Valley.

In addition, the 24 town nonprofit consortium has surpassed its previous investment fundraising year of $1.2 million and will be able to begin expanding service to some neighborhoods in Norwich, Strafford and Thetford in the next two or three months, said Irv Thomae, chairman of the ECFiber governing board.

In the last six years, ECFiber has raised more than $5 million to provide service, and in the last year, the nonprofit has expanded from 60 miles of working fiber-optic trunk cable to 180 miles “on poles and lit,” Thomae said last week.

“In the last year, we’ve had an enormous amount of construction, and now, we’re building off of the trunk,” he said.

ECFiber offers potential customers an opportunity to invest in the company and pays interest on the investments, he said, noting that it costs about $1,000 per customer to install service. With fiber installed by the Orange County Fiber Connector, ECFiber has been able to deliver broadband service to Chelsea, Vershire, West Fairlee and Thetford.

Next year, ECFiber plans to focus on connecting customers in unserved parts of Royalton, Strafford, Norwich, Tunbridge and Sharon.

ECFiber is seeking additional investment during this quarter to finance the work next year, and has set a goal of having more than 1,000 customers connected by the end of 2014.

One new route that extends the Royalton hub into Randolph has been partially subsidized by a small grant from the Vermont Telecommunication Authority and is planned for 2014.

Those interested in ECFiber service or investing, should go to the consortium’s website, www.ecfiber.net.

Another sign of ECFiber’s stability is a management shift at ValleyNet, the nonprofit organization that builds and manages ECFiber’s network.

After six years of providing “entrepreneurial vision” for ECFiber, ValleyNet Chief Executive Officer Tim Nulty is retiring on Jan. 1 and will take the position of ValleyNet board chairman, replacing Stan Williams, who will continue as a board member and chief financial officer, Thomae and a news release said.

Leslie Nulty is leaving the position of project coordinator and will continue as a ValleyNet board member.

“Leslie and I have worked hard, non-stop, for almost 50 years,” Tim Nulty said in the release. “The last six years with ECFiber have been among the most rewarding of all — but they have also been among the hardest. ... The recent conclusion of an additional large capital injection funding a total of over 180 miles of fiber has cemented ECFiber’s future. In view of that, we feel it’s a good time to step back from daily responsibility.”

ValleyNet has begun a search for a new CEO.