EAGLE-Net finds manager for network
Last Updated: 15:51 October 23, 2013
Affiniti, through a long-term partnership, will invest at least $8 million to expand Broomfield-based EAGLE-Net's broadband network, EAGLE-Net said. The total amount invested by Affiniti will depend on EAGLE-Net meeting certain revenue goals, EAGLE-Net chief executive Mike Ryan said.
The partnership with Affiniti will help EAGLE-Net close its funding gap, he said.
"It creates an environment where we can take our free cash flow and use that to expand and grow the network so we have a continuous opportunity to deliver more capital to build out all the 168 school districts," he said.
EAGLE-Net's announcement follows a September state Legislative Audit Committee hearing during which EAGLE-Net told lawmakers that it needed $17 million to $25 million to complete the network. The organization also revealed that it had $8.4 million remaining from a $100.6 million federal grant it received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program in 2010.
EAGLE-Net faced accusations of using taxpayer dollars to compete with private-sector Internet service providers and laying fiber optics in areas already served by other companies. The organization also was accused of spending most of its money without fulfilling its core mission of connecting school districts.
EAGLE-Net still has 29 school districts left to complete statewide to meet its goal of connecting 168 school districts.
In addition to its agreement with EAGLE-Net, Affiniti is negotiating with similar broadband organizations in Florida that received stimulus grants, The Gainesville Sun reported in September.
Affiniti has sought to manage networks of struggling broadband providers backed by the federal stimulus, but the company also operates networks of other providers, said Bob Roland, senior vice president for sales and marketing. The company's networks serve close to 1 million students nationwide.
Most of EAGLE-Net staff members will become Affiniti employees, Ryan said. Members of EAGLE-Net's executive team, including Ryan, will run EAGLE-Net.
EAGLE-Net will retain ownership of its assets and maintain responsibility for meeting federal and state requirements as Affiniti provides the organization with network operating efficiencies, according to EAGLE-Net.
"This agreement creates immediate benefits for EAGLE-Net Alliance and the state of Colorado by allowing EAGLE-Net to continue its mission to connect school districts across Colorado to next-generation broadband," EAGLE-Net board chairman Tim Swain said in a statement.
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