Beanpole project is still delayed, but Peak Speed wants money up front
SUMMIT COUNTY – A taxpayer-funded project to connect government offices and nonprofits with high-speed Internet access is behind schedule three months and counting, and the company granted the contract for the project is requesting more payment up front.
Peak Speed, a Breckenridge-based Internet technology company, has asked the Summit County Telecommunications Consortium (SCTC) to move money scheduled for the final, service-related end of its contract to the construction phase of the contract.
The request, discussed Aug. 1 at the SCTC board meeting, precipitated a closed executive session about contract renegotiations.
The SCTC awarded Peak Speed, a company created by the founders of bankruptcy-mired Netbeam, the $456,000 contract for the Beanpole Project. Peak Speed has received an average of about $16,000 a month since February as part of the contract.
The Beanpole Project is a state effort aimed at getting rural communities hooked up to the state’s fiber-optic backbone, or Multiuse Network.
Peak Speed plans to construct six radio towers that will provide a wireless Internet connection. In essence, the Beanpole Project provides money to overcome the capital expense of putting technology in place – technology that attracts private companies by allowing them to eventually use the infrastructure to obtain private customers.
The project was scheduled to be completed by May, but Peak Speed and SCTC officials forgot they’d have to go through the county’s planning commissions to get the towers constructed. They pushed the expected completion date back to August, but towers still haven’t been erected. Charges against Peak Speed for delays, as outlined in the contract, have not been enforced by the consortium.
SCTC chairman Bernie Zurbriggen told the Frisco Town Council Aug. 12 that the consortium would reconcile the project – “finding out where everything is,” he said – and had yet to see a formal proposal.
“We would expect some guarantees, though,” Zurbriggen told the town council.
Peak Speed’s finances are currently the focus of a court-appointed examiner.
In its current Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, the bankruptcy court judge ordered an audit of Peak Speed’s financial relationship with Netbeam after inconsistencies in accounting and questionable practices were pointed out by the case’s trustee.
Peak Speed’s and Netbeam’s principal officer, Greg Friedman, could not be reached for comment on the request for more up-front Beanpole money.
Zurbriggen, a former investor and board member of Netbeam, deferred questions about the project to the county’s information system director, who could not be reached for comment.
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or
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