Walden, Murphy Want Answers on EAGLE-Net Subsidy

Lawmakers Still Investigating Whether Funds Being Used For Broadband Overbuild, Rather For Unserved Parts Of Colorado

WASHINGTON — House Energy & Commerce Committee leaders last week registered their continuing concern over the EAGLE-Net broadband-stimulus grant with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which handed out the broadband subsidy and oversees its progress.

EAGLE-Net is an “intergovernmental” alliance that is spending more than $100 million in government stimulus money to deliver broadband to schools and libraries in rural areas of Colorado.

In the letter to NTIA chief Larry Strickling from House Communications Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), the lawmakers note that the committee is still investigating allegations — including cable operators’ claim that the $100.6 million subsidy is being used to overbuild existing broadband service, rather than extending it to unserved parts of Colorado.

The lawmakers want a raft of documents related to the NTIA’s review and for the agency to answer several questions:

• How did the NTIA verify data regarding served and unserved populations in the project area?

• How did building fiber-optic connections to the Cherry Creek School District satisfy eligibility requirements?

• How did the network’s design change?

• Does the project, which is funded by the Broadcast Technology Opportunities Program, overlap with the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service’s middle-mile grants?

• What are the current revenues and expenses of the project?

• Why was the project placed on a “corrective action” plan and what corrections have ben made?

The lawmakers gave Strickling until July 8 to produce the documents and the answers.

“EAGLE-Net is continuing to work with the NTIA and [the office of the Inspector General] to provide requested information,” EAGLE-Net President Mike Ryan told Multichannel News.