Congress' Walden, Murphy raise questions about EAGLE-Net middle mile network

Colorado's troubled EAGLE-Net middle mile network is now facing scrutiny from Communications Subcommittee chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee chairman Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.).

Walden and Murphy said in a letter sent to Larry Strickling, the assistant secretary of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), that they are still looking at claims--particularly from local cable operators. The representatives said that the $100.6 million Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant EAGLE-Net was awarded in 2010 actually overbuilds in markets where a broadband service provider is already present.

"[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."

Strickling has until July 8 to provide the Congressmen with documents related to the NTIA's review and to answer a number of questions about the project, including network design, defining served and unserved populations, and expenses.

Mike Ryan, EAGLE-Net's President told Broadcasting and Cable that it "is continuing to work with the NTIA and OIG to provide requested information."

News of this latest investigation comes after the NTIA allowed building on the project to resume after it was suspended last December due to environmental concerns.

EAGLE-Net may be the latest is NTIA-funded middle mile project that's faced scrutiny since the program began making grant awards in 2010. Other projects Richmond, Calif. and Louisiana were reprimanded by the NTIA for not providing proper information about financial and buildout timelines.

 For more:
- Broadcasting and Cable has this article

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