As Obama Touts Public Broadband, Weinberger Committed To BT Sale

Jan 20, 2015

Burlington's city-owned fiber broadband network has been re-branded in an effort to attract customers to the formerly troubled utility.

Mayor Miro Weinberger says Burlingtonians should know that Burlington Telecom's future is secure. And he's hoping more people will sign up for service with the city-owned utility.

The renewed commitment to Burlington Telecom comes as President Obama outlines a plan that makes it easier for cities to create broadband networks and increase competition in their markets.

Weinberger said Burlington is lucky to have such a system already in place.

"What the president is talking about trying to spread to other cities and communities, we already have that opportunity here," he said.

But if Weinberger gets his way, Burlington Telecom as a municipally-owned network , will be short lived.

A legal agreement negotiated by the mayor last year got BT out of a lawsuit that threatened its very existence. But it also put the utility on track to be sold to a private buyer in the next few years.

Critics of that plan - including Progressive mayoral challenger Steve Goodkind - say that would threaten BT's community-focused mission. But Weinberger says keeping it under city control is unlikely.

"That would require an enormous level of change in terms of the charter, state law, the city's license and I think maybe more importantly, I think there'd need to be a dramatic shift in the public opinion about what we want for the future of Burlington Telecom," Weinberger said.

At least one group has already formed to retain some form of local ownership. Weinberger has pledged to keep the sale process open to public input and scrutiny.