Reps. Walden, Murphy Seek EAGLE-Net Documents, Answers - Broadcasting & Cable

Reps. Walden, Murphy Seek EAGLE-Net Documents, Answers

Give NTIA until July 8 to comply as they continue investigation of charges EAGLE-Net is overbuilding existing telecoms
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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.

In
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 -- that
the $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:

  1. How did it verify data regarding served and unserved populations
    in the project area?
  2. How did building fiber optic connections to the Cherry Creek School District satisfy
    eligibility requirements?
  3. How did the network design change?
  4. Does the project, which is funded by the Broadcast Technology Opportunities
    Program, overlap with the USDA's RUS middle mile awards?
  5. What are the current revenues and expenses of the project?
  6. 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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