Beanpole construction to begin this week
BRECKENRIDGE – After months of delays, antenna tower construction for the county’s wireless Internet project, funded by the Beanpole Project, is finally slated to begin this week, according to Assistant County Manager Sue Boyd.
In a presentation before the Board of County Commissioners, Boyd outlined the status of the project and offered a revised completion date toward the end of December.
When the construction is finished and other equipment is installed, government and nonprofits will be able to hook up to high-speed, wireless Internet access.
The Summit County Telecommunications Consortium (SCTC) awarded a $456,000 state grant to Breckenridge-based Peak Speed, a successor company to the bankrupt Netbeam, to build the project.
“If we’re not operational by the end of the calendar year, I think that’s the point where the (SCTC) will begin looking as if there’s a problem,” she said. At that point, performance penalty clauses in Peak Speed’s contract could kick in.
The SCTC is the committee in charge of governing much of the county’s communications infrastructure and comprises members from the county and town governments.
Boyd said the SCTC has paid close attention to Peak Speed’s performance and financial issues in respect to its connection with the bankrupt Netbeam. Peak Speed and Netbeam share ownership, equipment and employees.
She said delays up to this point were not entirely the fault of Peak Speed.
Boyd said the release of any county funds to the contractor is subject to “rigorous review” and that a standby agreement with another wireless provider is in place to fulfill the service obligation should complications arise with Peak Speed.
She said the SCTC had implemented a plan for “rigorous monitoring of Peak Speed performance under the contract.”
Additionally, she said the contractor had provided a financial guarantee in the form of a $60,000 letter of credit that renews every six months. She said the amount would decrease over time as products and services are delivered and the company’s liability decreases.
Boyd said review of Peak Speed accounting procedures is related to contract performance only.
As for benefits to the community, Boyd reiterated that public and nonprofit entities initially approved to participate in the project would receive 24 months of service for the same price as their current connection. This grace period was designed to help stimulate more competition in the market for high-speed Internet connections in Summit County.
In response to concerns that the timeliness of the project had not met expectations, Boyd said many of the contingencies responsible for the delay had not been the company’s responsibility.
“At this point, the consortium has not found it necessary to find this slippage in time of concern,” she said.
She said that installation of equipment on customer premises would begin next week and that overall, the project would still significantly enhance county information systems.
“It’s the intracounty connectivity that offers the most opportunity to enhance services,” she said.
Commissioner Gary Lindstrom expressed some irritation at the delays and said he expected the project to be completed as soon as possible.
“We’re very sensitive to this issue,” he said. “We expect to see some action.”
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