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EAGLE-Net Defends Its Broadband Life

In a two-hour plus presentation to the Colorado General Assembly's Legislative Audit Committee Sept. 25, intergovernmental agency EAGLE-Net alliance defended its build-out of a broadband network to schools, libraries and other anchor institutions.

It has a $100 million government BTOP grant it is using, but has run into delays and problems has had a $17 million loan capped at the current withdrawal of only a little more than $600,000.

ENA representatives at the hearing, which was delayed a week due to the flooding in the state, said that they were about ready to strike a deal with an independent telecom to operate the network, saying it should be done by the end of October--they would not identify the company when pressed by a member of the committee.

As to how they will pay for continuing operations without the loan, ENA said that some of that would come from BTOP funding. While that funding is primarily for network buildout, ENA pointed a limited amount can be used for operations.

ENA provided a lot of information, including on its budget and salaries, its build-outs and equipment needs, but it defended not supplying some information to auditors and others, arguing it had complied with all disclosure laws, but it had some contracts with private companies that included nondisclosure clauses. It also pointed out that cable operators have similar disclosure protections when supplying information to local franchisees.

In response to criticism from some telecoms that EAGLE-Net was not being cooperative, ENA reps pointed to the outside deals it had struck, as well as saying that when it did strike such deals, the ones that did not wind up with deals complain that ENA was not working with them.

ENA said that its mission is to focus on a statewide network that will allow public schools to have the broadband they need to be part of 21st century learning.