Monday, February 14, 2011

It's a 'Bad News Bears' Kinda February: Broadband Grant Goes Kaput

State returning $23 million grant for broadband. (Capital Times, 2/14/2011)

Excerpt:    Those involved with the grant say the regulatory concerns center on how the state's broadband network, called BadgerNet, is set up. The state has had BadgerNet for 15 years, and today more than 2,200 sites are connected to the infrastructure -- including more than 500 K-12 schools and over 400 public libraries, in addition to state and municipal government agencies, and higher education institutions.

However, the state does not own BadgerNet. Instead, it's a partnership between the state and 70 telecommunication companies -- with AT&T as the prime vendor and owner. In the end, the federal government apparently had no interest in helping to put down broadband infrastructure that would ultimately be owned by private companies.

"All the parties involved just couldn't come to reconciliation on some of these key issues," says Bob Bocher, a technology consultant with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction who helped write some of the background and justification information for landing the grant. "You can try to cast blame to various segments, but the bottom line is no agreement could be met. It's safe to say we're all very disappointed.

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