Thursday, October 06, 2011

Big rural broadband provider with big federal loan falls flat

Open Range Communications, which was created to provide broadband to rural areas and received one of the largest loans ever made by the Department of Agriculture, "laid off over half its workforce and accepted its CEO's resignation, moves that put yet another hold on extending broadband services nationwide," Sandy Fitzgerald of Mobiledia reports.

The company operates in nearly 150 markets in 12 states. It "will continue providing WiMax service to existing customers but isn't accepting any new ones," Fitzgerald writes. The company "struggled to attract customers with its data-only WiMax service, marking about 20,000 subscribers earlier this year." The company "is reportedly up for sale" and has not said how it will repay "nearly $300 million from the Rural Utilites Service" of USDA, Fitzgerald reports.

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