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 Cal.net 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.
CAROL ANNE OGDIN