EAGLE-Net Defends Its Broadband Build

Circulates Newsletter Making Case for Colorado Network

EAGLE-Net, the "intergovernmental" alliance spending over $100 million in government stimulus money to deliver broadband to schools and libraries Monday defended itself against charges it is overbuilding markets and cherry picking customers from Colorado telecoms.

In a "community outreach" e-mail newsletter, EAGLE-Net said it was "not competing against local service providers for business, residential or commercial customers." But it added that: "We must compete fairly with other providers to enable broadband service options to governmental entities."

Some local telecoms are complaining about being overbuilt, and see EAGLE-Net's target of anchor institutions as a way to cherry pick its own school and library customers.

Broadband providers, including many cable operators, are concerned that the government is underwriting overbuilds of their markets in its effort to get broadband to every household, rather than focusing on only the unserved homes that can't get the service.

EAGLE-Net says the grant has rules to help it avoid overbuilding, but also says that its grant satisfies a need for access and "redundancy," and points to the fact that its grant is for a statewide system.

In its newsletter, EAGLE-Net included a link to a letter of support from the head of schools and administrator of Silverton, Colo.

A letter from four state legislators wrote a letter to the National Telecommunications & Information Administration Sept. 17 saying they were troubled by the EAGLE-Net build and citing Silverton, Colo., as one of the communities wondering why it was taking so long to build out to them. Critics of EAGLE-Net complain it is overbuilding them while not serving truly unserved communities, while EAGLE-Net points out it is building a statewide network and will eventually get to those places.

The letter from the Silverton community leaders said that while they had raised concerns and questions--the schools there ahd improved their communications in anticipation of the fiber hook-up--EAGLE-Net had addressed those concerns to their satisfaction and that "while we are sure a myriad of unanswered questions and host of logistical and technical complications remain, we would like to continue to offer our unyielding support to Eagle Net in whatever form that may take..."