Tuesday, April 1, 2008

$267M Buys a Lot of Broadband for Rural America

According to GigaOhm, Denver-based Open Range Communications just received a loan of $267 million from the USDA under its Rural Development Broadband Loan and Loan Guarantee Program. This will allow Open Range to roll out broadband services in 518 rural areas in 17 states that include Illinois, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Additionally, the company has secured $100M in private equity. According to Om Malik, this is one of the largest investments in rural broadband so far:

"Ironically, for a company that’s getting such a huge amount of money as a loan, there is little or no information. Open Range’s web site is a placeholder with a link to an email address for its PR person. Given that it secured hundreds of millions of dollars from a government department, one should expect more transparency. Even the details on how the network and service will be rolled out remain sketchy. Open Range will use a combination of technologies, including WiMAX, to bring broadband to these communities."

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