House Energy & Commerce Committee leaders Thursday
registered their continuing concern over the EAGLE-Net broadband stimulus grant
with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which
handed out the subsidy and oversees its progress.
the letter to NTIA chief Larry Strickling, Communications Subcommittee
chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee chairman
Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) point out that the committee is still investigating
allegations -- including by cable operators -- thatthe $100.6 million subsidy is being used to overbuild existing service,
rather than extending it to unserved parts of Colorado.
"[T]hose areas of Colorado which truly lack high-speed
broadband connectivity -- such as the communities along the Western Slope --
are still waiting for the promised EAGLE-Net service to be turned on,"
they wrote. "We remain skeptical of that occurring on time and on budget
in light of a February 28, 2013 report indicating that $96 million of the
$100.6 million grant has already been committed or spent. Even more troubling
to the Committee is EAGLE-Net's recent acknowledgement that only $7.8 million
of the original grant money remains despite reports that the project is less
than half complete."
They want a raft of documents related to NTIA's review and
for NTIA to answer several questions:
- How did it verify data regarding served and unserved populations
in the project area?
- How did building fiber optic connections to the Cherry Creek School District satisfy
- How did the network design change?
- Does the project, which is funded by the Broadcast Technology Opportunities
Program, overlap with the USDA's RUS middle mile awards?
- What are the current revenues and expenses of the project?
- Why was the project placed on a "corrective action" plan and what
corrections have been made?
They gave Strickling until July 8 to produce the documents
and the answers.
EAGLE-Net has said that 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.
"EAGLE-Net is continuing to work with the NTIA and OIG to provide requested information," EAGLE-Net President Mike Ryan told B&C.
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