‘Net contract needs scrutiny | SummitDaily.com

‘Net contract needs scrutiny

As readers might remember, this newspaper took a stand of concern about a $456,000 public contract local governments awarded to Peak Communications to create wireless high-speed Internet access in Summit County.

One of our issues was the link between Peak Speed and its bankrupt sister company, Netbeam. Both are based in Breckenridge and under common ownership.

Members of local government, both staff and elected, closed ranks around the deal, expressing confidence in the project.

One of their points was that Peak Speed and Netbeam are separate companies, which they are, although they are surely intertwined with common ownership, use of equipment and mingling of funds.

The U.S. bankruptcy trustee administering Netbeam’s Chapter 11 filing now finds the closeness of the two companies interesting, as well, including the fact Peak Speed plans to merge with Netbeam – if and when it emerges from federal bankruptcy protection.

Upon the trustee’s request, a federal judge ordered an examination of financial records has been ordered, over Netbeam’s objection.

One interesting tidbit from Netbeam’s objection is acknowledgement that “the two companies are one and the same in terms of revenue sharing.”

As has been noted in the contract, the equipment purchased by Peak Speed with the so-named Beanpole grant money remains in Summit County government’s ownership for 18 months, just in case something goes wrong in the bankruptcy.

The purpose of the Beanpole grant is to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas so we rustics can have affordable broadband Internet access, just as people do in Denver.

In the end, all may go well and Summit County gains wireless Internet access to go along with services offered, or soon to be offered, by the likes of Comcast cable TV, VailNet/ColoradoNet, Qwest and Resort Internet.

Still, the recent bankruptcy filings should be good reason for Summit County’s contract administrators to be sure the Peak Speed contract is being met to the letter.

Peak Speed is required to file many financial reports, essentially to prove vendors and employees are being paid. By its own admission, Peak Speed/Netbeam has been tardy filing reports with the U.S. trustee. Four-hundred and fifty-six thousand dollars of taxpayers money says that better not be the case in the contract.

Opinions published in this space are formulated by members of the Summit Daily News editorial board: Michael Bennett, Jim Pokrandt, Jason Starr, Rachel Toth, Reid Williams, Aidan Leonard, Shauna Farnell and Martha Lunsky.

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