- Associated Press - Thursday, August 23, 2018

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Vermont will seek a new operator of a rural cellphone network after a financially troubled company stopped its service.

Vanu CoverageCo provided microcells, which are stations to improve cellphone reception, across about 150 road miles in 26 towns in Vermont. The company struggled with expenses exceeding revenues, and state officials said this spring that the company would likely cease operations in the state.

This summer, the company provided the state with a financial plan to keep operating. Department of Public Service Commissioner June Tierney said the plan was inadequate and the department sought more information.

In an email to legislative leaders Thursday, Tierney said the company’s response received Aug. 18 lacked the information requested.

“After giving CoverageCo a fair opportunity to demonstrate its ability to meet its contractual obligations to the state, I made the decision to terminate our master lease agreements with CoverageCo,” she wrote.

CoverageCo did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The department planned to issue a request for proposals on Thursday seeking a new operator and anticipated having one in place as soon as possible, Tierney said.

“I believe that this network has the potential to serve rural Vermonters voice and data needs, and we are mindful of the impact that a lack of cell service has on our most rural communities,” she said. Vermont Public Radio first reported the story.

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