The Vermont Statutes Online
Chapter 005 : STATE POLICY; PLANS; JURISDICTION AND REGULATORY AUTHORITY OF COMMISSION AND DEPARTMENT
Subchapter 001 : GENERAL POWERS(Cite as: 30 V.S.A. § 202d)
§ 202d. Telecommunications plan
(a) The Department of Public Service shall constitute the responsible planning agency of the State for the purpose of obtaining for all consumers in the State stable and predictable rates and a technologically advanced telecommunications network serving all service areas in the State. The Department shall be responsible for the provision of plans for meeting emerging trends related to telecommunications technology, markets, financing, and competition.
(b) The Department shall prepare the Telecommunications Plan for the State. The Agency of Digital Services, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, and the Agency of Transportation shall assist the Department in preparing the Plan. The Plan shall be for a 10-year period and shall serve as a basis for State telecommunications policy. Prior to preparing the Plan, the Department shall prepare:
(1) An overview, looking 10 years ahead, of statewide growth and development as they relate to future requirements for telecommunications services, including patterns of urban expansion, statewide and service area economic growth, shifts in transportation modes, economic development, technological advances, and other trends and factors that will significantly affect State telecommunications policy and programs. The overview shall include an economic and demographic forecast sufficient to determine infrastructure investment goals and objectives.
(2) One or more surveys of Vermont residents and businesses, conducted in cooperation with the Agency of Commerce and Community Development to determine what telecommunications services are needed now and in the succeeding 10 years, generally, and with respect to the following specific sectors in Vermont;
(A) the educational sector, with input from the Secretary of Education;
(B) the health care and human services sectors, with input from the Commissioner of Health and the Secretary of Human Services;
(C) the public safety sector, with input from the Commissioner of Public Safety and the Executive Director of the Enhanced 911 Board; and
(D) the workforce training and development sectors, with input from the Commissioner of Labor.
(3) An assessment of the current state of telecommunications infrastructure.
(4) An assessment, conducted in cooperation with the Agency of Digital Services and the Agency of Transportation, of State-owned and managed telecommunications systems and related infrastructure and an evaluation, with specific goals and objectives, of alternative proposals for upgrading the systems to provide the best available and affordable technology for use by State and local government, public safety, educational institutions, community media, nonprofit organizations performing governmental functions, and other community anchor institutions.
(5) A geographically specific assessment of the status, coverage, and capacity of telecommunications networks and services available throughout Vermont, a comparison of available services relative to other states, including price and broadband speed comparisons for key services and comparisons of the status of technology deployment.
(6) An assessment of opportunities for shared infrastructure, open access, and neutral host wireless facilities that is sufficiently specific to guide the Public Utility Commission, the Department, State and local governments, and telecommunications service companies in the deployment of new technology.
(8) With respect to emergency communications, an analysis of all federal initiatives and requirements, including the Department of Commerce FirstNet initiative and the Department of Homeland Security Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan, and how these activities can best be integrated with strategies to advance the State's interest in achieving ubiquitous deployment of mobile telecommunications and broadband services within Vermont.
(9) An analysis of alternative strategies to leverage the State's ownership and management of the public rights-of-way to create opportunities for accelerating the buildout of fiber-optic broadband and for increasing network resiliency capacity.
(c) In developing the Plan, the Department shall address each of the State telecommunications policies and goals of section 202c of this title, and shall assess initiatives designed to advance and make measurable progress with respect to each of those policies and goals. The assessment shall include identification of the resources required and potential sources of funding for Plan implementation.
(d) The Department shall establish a participatory planning process that includes effective provisions for increased public participation. In establishing plans, public hearings shall be held and the Department shall consult with members of the public, representatives of telecommunications utilities with a certificate of public good, other providers, including the Vermont Electric Power Co., Inc. (VELCO) and communications union districts, and other interested State agencies, particularly the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the Agency of Transportation, and the Agency of Digital Services, whose views shall be considered in preparation of the Plan. To the extent necessary, the Department shall include in the Plan surveys to determine existing, needed, and desirable plant improvements and extensions, access and coordination between telecommunications providers, methods of operations, and any change that will produce better service or reduce costs. To this end, the Department may require the submission of data by each company subject to supervision by the Public Utility Commission.
(e) Before adopting the Plan, the Department shall first prepare and publish a preliminary draft and solicit public comment. The Department's procedures for soliciting public comment shall include a method for submitting comments electronically. After review and consideration of the comments received, the Department shall prepare a final draft. This final draft shall either incorporate public comments received with respect to the preliminary draft or shall include a detailed explanation as to why specific individual comments were not incorporated. The Department shall conduct at least four public hearings across the State on the final draft and shall consider the testimony presented at such hearings when preparing the Plan. The Department shall coordinate with Vermont's access media organizations when planning the public hearings required by this subsection. At least one public hearing shall be held jointly with committees of the General Assembly designated by the General Assembly for this purpose.
(f) The Department shall adopt a new Plan every three years pursuant to the procedures established in subsection (e) of this section. The Plan shall outline significant deviations from the prior Plan. For good cause or upon request by a joint resolution passed by the General Assembly, an interim review and revision of any section of the Plan may be made after conducting public hearings on the interim revision. At least one hearing shall be held jointly with committees of the General Assembly designated by the General Assembly for this purpose. (Added 1987, No. 87, § 2; amended 1995, No. 190 (Adj. Sess.), § 1(a); 2003, No. 164 (Adj. Sess.), § 16, eff. June 12, 2004; 2013, No. 190 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. June 16, 2014; 2015, No. 41, § 3; 2017, No. 41, § 1, eff. May 22, 2017; 2019, No. 79, § 22, eff. June 20, 2019; 2019, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § B.1105, eff. Oct. 2, 2020.)