Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Interbahn has shut down


In April, 2010, I presented a case I’d been working on for years to the Economic Development Advisory Council for bringing high-speed broadband to the thousands of unserved households and businesses in El Dorado County. For these past three years, I have been working to solve that problem. I recruited a strong board of directors from local leaders, wrote a comprehensive business plan, had dozens of community leaders provide us feedback on how to improve it, and talked with hundreds of local citizens about our plans. Last year, we hired a chief technology officer, and in January, an experienced and qualified CEO. To-date, we’ve spent over $300,000 in time and treasure out of our own pockets.

By the end of April this year, we came to the conclusion there was no way to get funding for the project. First of all, broadband service is a utility, and utilities are characterized by huge up-front costs for engineering and deployment, before the first dollar of revenue can be collected. That’s just unattractive to conventional capital investors, who prefer shorter time scales. We tried to reach high-network individuals and organizations in the county to raise “seed” capital; none of our letters or calls or meetings led to any cash in the bank to begin development, or as matching funds for future state and federal grants. We do not believe that most households of El Dorado County could come up with the roughly $1,000 each to fund universal service, so a co-op solution doesn’t look practical. We’ve exhausted all our options.

So, Interbahn has closed its doors. The Board and Officers have no other prospects for solving the problem. All we can do now is to hope that local leader can deliver more service to more customers, faster, and eventually provide you service … to them we wish all possible success.

If anyone wants to explore how far we got (e.g., identifying needy communities, project plan, business plan, etc.), I’m happy to share what we learned; feel free to call me. I’d be happy to have someone else leverage our experience as a springboard to a success we were unable to achieve.

Founder, Interbahn

Letters to the Editor


Discussion | 10 comments

  • Ernie LouisMay 10, 2013 - 9:31 am

    This has been the sad story of economic Development Efforts in El Dorado County. We need new people exploring possibilities without being labeled as threats to the “Powers That Be”. Many residents of El Dorado County have been maligned in the Mountain Democrat because their opinion dose not align with the local dad’s plans and schemes. Much needs to be done. We cannot progress in the GOB Condition like the Industrial dust bowl near Established Rural Residents. Ernie Louis

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  • Really?May 13, 2013 - 5:52 am

    Presenting a verbal case asking for money. Seeking cash in the bank via phone calls is the wrong approach for EDC. Silo.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netMay 13, 2013 - 7:19 am

    Many of these volunteers helping in these groups are unqualified. Economic development groups are bringing the USA down with their "high" ideas. There is a meeting in Pollock about this issue of broadband coming up--not everyone in this economy can afford it. Yet groups such as CEDAPP are promoting it. At least Carol has the right idea--tell the people it is not going to work. When is this county going to pay attention? READ. Again...the plans are the same across the US...bikes and trails, broadband...tourism..."marketing". Leaders...what is interesting to me-- is that some of your leaders with the economic development groups--have never owned and run a successful business. Ask Ms Harper of CEDAPP--what was the name of your business? What is your background in "marketing?" How many units do you have in design, aesthetics and /or architecture? Have you spent time in rural planning classes? Then apply these same questions to many of the other "leaders" picked from the community...I just dont get it--start adding up the money being spent--ouch.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netMay 13, 2013 - 8:54 am

    May 15th is another town meeting in Pollock at the Pollock pines Camino Community Center. It is about looking and listening to the people who would like to be appointed by the BOS. I suggested new people--one of CEDAPP s own said he disagreed--thet key people would be lost. Many of them need to read the definition of "community" Look at it this way CEDAPP--a rock star is nothing without their "fans". Leaders are nothing without the "community"--you are losing support. That night will also be our last concert for our children at the middle school--what will our leaders chose? "community" pride--or--possible power to think they can re shape our space without the "community?" The wonderful concert of our young people starts at 7 is held at Sierra Ridge Middle School 2700 Amber Trail Pollock Pines, CA 95726 (530) 644-2031 You cant have support--unless you support ALL the people of a community--the young are part of it. All this talk of supporting a community 25-35 years ahead...these young people playing with their hearts will be there...remember that--because the young will remember.

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  • cookie65May 13, 2013 - 10:25 am

    The home I grew up in is out in the middle of nowhere. There are a dozen or so houses out there all of them were on dial-up internet. About 5 miles away there is a cell tower on a hilltop that you can't see from the house. My dad put a transceiver up on a 40ft mass mounted on top of the garage and gave highspeed wireless broadband internet to all the houses around them. He spent a couple hundred bucks. In his nearly 60 years in telecommunications he probably gave away billions in intellectual property, but that is just who he was. Lots of people have benefited from some of the stuff he created over the years and they don't even know it. To the person writing this letter, you could have highspeed broadband wireless internet by the end of the day today. And that is a fact. Your letter is just another example of free citizens handing over the greatest gift we have to the government. Man do I miss him. And so do all his neighbors.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netMay 13, 2013 - 11:52 am

    Cookie your dad sounds like my grandpa...I miss him. Different generation. My friend lives in front of one of the broadband towers--works at the capital...and still cant get access...unless she pays lots of money. Way back when, one of my uncles had bought "air" to have a working phone in his car--im sure it was more complicated than that...he shortened it up for me--I just thought it was cool to have a working phone in his car. this was before home comps--cell phones (for the everyday person)

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  • Do your homework firstMay 14, 2013 - 6:29 am

    Progress on this front is being made through wireless companies, satellite companies and cellular service providers and there is competition over large areas of the rural parts of the county. The lack of due diligence before spending money is an unfortunate lessen to learn the hard way.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netMay 14, 2013 - 7:04 am

    Do your homework first...i hope you are right--if students on going to have textbooks on-line...everyone should be able to have the "same" advantage. right now this idea is not "sustainable" because of the vehicle itself (cell phone, tablet,lap top). I thought Ms. Ogdin did do her homework--and decided it would not work.

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  • EvelynMay 14, 2013 - 7:26 am

    Fran: I thought the letter writer's point was about funding.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netMay 14, 2013 - 1:55 pm

    yep--it is about funding--this person tried various avenues and decided it wasnt going to work--with or with out they are closing their is how I read it. One of the most important parts for me is the statement "We do not believe that most households of El Dorado County could come up with the roughly $1,000 each to fund universal service, so a co-op solution doesn’t look practical." I found it told me--the project was a bust.

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