SCTC, Peak Speed bring town up to speed |

SCTC, Peak Speed bring town up to speed

BRECKENRIDGE – County commissioners reviewed the progress of a state-funded project to connect local government agencies and businesses to a high-speed telecommunications network Monday morning, and they came away with renewed confidence in the safeguards negotiators included in awarding a contract to a Breckenridge business.

In a worksession, county commissioners met with representatives from the Summit County Telecommunications Consortium (SCTC) and Peak Speed Communications. The SCTC is the intergovernmental group charged with overseeing the state-funded Beanpole Project, an initiative to connect government agencies to the state’s high-speed Multiuse Network, create increased business opportunities and indirectly benefit consumers by reducing the price for improved Internet connectivity.

Assistant County Manager Sue Boyd said the meeting was a chance for the county commissioners to hear an update on the progress of the projects given the recent attention in the media. She was referring to recent stories and editorials in the Summit Daily News.

Breckenridge subscribers to Netbeam, whose founder, Greg Friedman, also founded Peak Speed, contacted the Summit Daily News last month after a continued interruption of Internet service. Netbeam is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and its employees, assets and liabilities will be absorbed by Peak Speed once the bankruptcy reorganization plan is approved by a federal judge. SCTC chairman Bernie Zurbriggen, a Frisco Town Councilmember, is a former corporate director and investor in Netbeam.

He disclosed his history with Netbeam, he and the SCTC said. Zurbriggen has said he only “facilitated” discussions about possible vendors. After Peak Speed was selected, Zurbriggen was named to the SCTC negotiating committee.

Work on the Beanpole Project in Summit County is behind schedule. The consortium and Peak Speed originally planned to have the telecommunications equipment in place by May. The group, however, did not factor in the time required to obtain planning commission approval for constructing antennae towers.

Peak Speed President Greg Friedman and the consortium officials said they were unaware the towers would require building permits and site plans. Friedman said he expects the towers to be in place by August.

Breckenridge Town Manager and SCTC member Tim Gagen said the consortium members took offense to allegations the process of awarding the contract for the Beanpole Project – worth an initial $456,000 – was not fair.

Gagen told commissioners Monday the group had passed a vote of confidence in Zurbriggen at its monthly meeting Friday.

“I submit we went above and beyond the standard for a fair public process,” Gagen said. “We were surprised that only three companies submitted a proposal – and none of them were a slam-dunk.”

Assistant County Attorney Dan Teodoru explained in detail the “due diligence” officials performed before awarding the project to Peak Speed.

Teodoru outlined safeguard provisions in the contract, which include a rigorous review of financial information about Netbeam’s bankruptcy and its relationship to Peak Speed, performance guarantees included in the contract and the trustee arrangement stipulated by the contract.

Through the trustee relationship, all payments and titles for ownership of equipment are held in escrow until the requirements of the contract are met. Essentially, if Peak Speed is unable to complete the project as specified by the contract, ownership of the telecommunications equipment reverts to the county.

“This was over and above what we do for a typical (request for proposal),” Teodoru said.

Teodoru also said the financial review of Netbeam continues with each bankruptcy court filing.

County commissioners still had a few questions. Commissioner Bill Wallace wanted to know if the county is stuck with the bill if the project runs into cost overruns. SCTC officials and Friedman said the project is still under budget and no overruns are expected. Gagen added the consortium would address additional costs if and when they popped up.

“The cost is still significantly below the budget,” Friedman said.

Commissioner Gary Lindstrom asked Friedman if Netbeam would still be able to emerge from bankruptcy reorganization if Peak Speed hadn’t won the Beanpole contract. Friedman said Netbeam has been cash-flow positive for more than a year and would still be in business, even without the contract.

Lindstrom also asked Friedman why Netbeam was expelled from the Better Business Bureau for not responding to customer complaints about service interruptions. Friedman said he was unaware of that and would look into it.

In the end, the commissioners said they were satisfied and looked forward to the completion of the project.

“In hindsight, maybe we should have done this differently,” Wallace said. “But it’s a matter of weighing the conflicts here with the technical expertise to get the job done and the benefit of the technology to the community. I think we can move forward now.”

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or

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