Montpelier, VT – (July 1, 2020) – The Vermont State Colleges System (VSCS) announced that it has partnered with Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) to offer free Wi-Fi to the general public on the campuses of Northern Vermont University, Castleton University and Vermont Technical College. The move is designed to support Vermonters living in areas where connectivity is anything but universal and comes at a time when more Vermonters are working and learning remotely due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Designated areas will be available for public use daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. All Wi-Fi hotspots will provide safe, socially distanced and tobacco-free spaces for 20 to 30 simultaneous users to access the internet.

“Providing economic and educational opportunities for our neighbors in more rural and routinely underserved areas of our state is a foundational tenet of the VSCS,” said Sophie Zdatny, Interim Chancellor. “We also know that connectivity is essential for even basic functions, such as remote work, paying bills, reading the news and staying in touch with loved ones. We are pleased to be part of this program and hope this service makes a difference in our communities.”

The Wi-Fi locations and information are posted on the Department of Public Service’s Public Hotspot Map, which serves as a central listing service for all free Wi-Fi locations throughout the state.

VELCO provided and installed the equipment necessary to expand the number of users who could log on to the systems at the same time. According to Tom Dunn, VELCO President and CEO, the organization has strong ties to the Vermont State Colleges System, with some 30 employees having graduated from VSCS schools.

“VELCO is grateful to the Vermont State Colleges for their work to help expand broadband service to more Vermonters. Our Company seeks out partners who share a common commitment to serve some of our most challenged communities better, especially during the current pandemic,” said Dunn. “Once they were alerted to the collaborative opportunity, the VSCS team delivered and helped make this exciting opportunity a reality. While I am impressed, I am certainly not surprised. No one knows better than the Vermont State Colleges how to meet rural community needs.”