By Guy Page
‘Can you hear me now?’ Despite years of efforts to improve cellphone service in Vermont, the answer in many parts of rural Vermont still ranges from “not very well” to “not at all.”
Between July 1 and September 15 this year, the Vermont Public Service Department conducted a drive test to determine the extent of mobile wireless coverage along all primary roads in the state. The results (see map) will not surprise many Vermont drivers, especially those on rural roads.
Large sections of rural Vermont, and most notably Orange County, have, in the words of Journal-Opinion editor Alex Nuti De-Biasi, “been forgotten by time.”
In 2019, the PSD conducted a similar test using internal resources that included fewer roads.
For the 2022 test, the PSD partnered with the Vermont Agency of Transportation whose road maintenance staff conducted the driving. The PSD retained the services of Ookla, a company that provides broadband and mobile internet performance testing, to provide the software and technical support for the project.
The drive test included over 6,500 miles of planned routes. The drive test was conducted between July 1 and September 15, and included 322,245 voice calls and 321,390 Ookla data tests.
Tests covered 62% of the 19,744 Vermont road miles. Of the 313,062 business and residential buildings in the state, 75% are within the tested area.