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Summary:

If you live somewhere in the United States where dial-up is the only Internet access option, relax: Help is coming, and so is broadband, thanks to Denver-based Open Range Communications. The company got a hefty $267 million loan from the USDA under its Rural Development Broadband […]

Rural Broadband Via SatelliteIf you live somewhere in the United States where dial-up is the only Internet access option, relax: Help is coming, and so is broadband, thanks to Denver-based Open Range Communications. The company got a hefty $267 million loan from the USDA under its Rural Development Broadband Loan and Loan Guarantee Program and will roll out broadband services in 518 rural areas in 17 states that include Illinois, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Open Range has also buttoned up $100 million in private equity investments. This is one of the largest investments in rural broadband so far.

Ironically, for a company that’s getting such a huge amount of money as a loan, there is little or no information. Open Range’s web site is a placeholder with a link to an email address for its PR person. Given that it secured hundreds of millions of dollars from a government department, one should expect more transparency. Even the details on how the network and service will be rolled out remain sketchy. Open Range will use a combination of technologies, including WiMAX, to bring broadband to these communities.

Frank Ohrtman, president of WMX system, a Denver-based WiMax consulting firm, tells The Denver Post that Open Range will “sublease the spectrum from others” and will deliver “a land-based broadband service using spectrum that was allocated as a satellite spectrum.” Clearly, Open Range isn’t using standards-based technologies.

Open Range cut a deal with Globalstar, a satellite services company, in 2007 and, as part of that deal, will deploy a network that will use Globalstar’s Ancillary Terrestrial Component authority.

Photo courtesy of Gino via Flickr.

By Om Malik

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  1. [...] 28th, 2008 (11:00am) Mike Gunderloy No Comments As out parent company GigaOM reports, the USDA has just approved a $267 million loan to Denver, Colorado-based Open Range [...]

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  2. [...] Open Range Communication Receives $267 Million Loan for Rural Broadband GIGAOM If you live somewhere in United States where dial-up is the only Internet access option, relax help is coming and so is broadband, thanks to Denver, Colorado-based Open Range Communications. The company got a hefty $267 million loan from (US Department of Agriculture) USDA Rural Development and will roll out broadband services in 518 rural areas in 17 states that include Illinois, rural areas in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin. RDUP doesn’t give money to areas that already have broadband available from a WISP, CLEC or ILEC. Open Range also has buttoned up $100 million in private equity investments. This is one of the largest investments in rural broadband so far. Source> [...]

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  3. [...] Open Range Communications is bringing broadband to rural areas of the country. Gigaom reports that they recently received about $267 million in funding to do [...]

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  4. Om

    I don’t know this outfit, but am glad someone like you is looking for the details. Many of the USDA loans have gone to projects based on nearly impossible to achieve subscriber rates. Others are political. The result: an enormous percentage of the RUS loans went into early default.

    All of which I hope isn’t true for this one, where I have no data.

    db

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  5. [...] The company secured USDA financing to the tune of $267 million for the purpose of rolling out BroadBand to Rural Areas. This announcement comes fast on the heels of two other news events– the wrapup of the [...]

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  6. Dave, I hope you’re wrong. But this PR firm, Percepture, located in Parsippany NJ, is known for representing Telecoms and is only around 10 miles, as the crow flies, from the Verizon Operations Center in Basking Ridge NJ (former home of AT&T Longlines.)

    Is anyone else picking up a whiff of stink? ;)

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  7. [...] If your Internet surfing gets cut constantly because a cow kicked over a lantern and burned down the barn or worse-because you use DSL, help could be on the way. Denver-based Open Range Communications is hoping to eliminate rural DSL Internet surfing with a substantial $267 million loan it received from the Department of Agriculture. The loan is part of the USDA’s Rural Development Broadband Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, and will provide broadband service in 518 rural areas in 17 states, including Illinois, Alabama, Arkansas and Wisconsin. This is great news and a long time coming for the rural communities of the US because, if anything, they’ve consistently shown a great thirst for knowledge, science and the unknown. [USDA via GigaOM] [...]

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  8. Agree. It is odd that a company which just got a large loan from the Feds doesn’t have office staff to answer the phone during businss hours(I called last week the multiple numbers on their website) and now have basically a non-functioning website. This website was fully-functional last week and you can probably access the archives on http://archive.org.

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  9. There needs to be accountability for these companies that are getting loans under this program. We need to establish strong service quality standards and consumer protections. Providers should be made to publicly report the actual speeds of the services they offer. Cost to consumers should be monitored so that the service is truly affordable for all.

    These are some of the goals of the Communications Workers Of America’s project Speed Matters. Check out their website at http://www.speedmatters.org for more information.

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