More delays

Company backs off of any further predictions on when services will be available

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Internet services touted by NC Telecom to be ready in December remain undelivered and the Meeker firm's operations manager Monday said he wouldn't predict when those services would be up and running.

NC Telecom's Rick Heming said he's "reluctant" to offer completion dates for Moffat County's share of high-speed Internet technologies to be delivered under the state-funded Beanpole project.

"There are things that are outside my control and I don't feel comfortable committing to time frames controlled by other people," said Heming, who in public meetings late last year said that work should be done around Dec. 20.

A deployment timetable between Dec. 9-Dec. 20 was part of an agreement to connect public entities in Craig, Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Rangely and Meeker to Colorado's multi-use network, Heming said.

None are fully connected. Moffat County is still looking for its first "live circuit."

Various point-to-point connections are running with city hall in Steamboat Springs, its Parks and Recreation Department and the Yampa Valley Regional Airport, among other locations, according to Heming.

Winnie DelliQuadari, grant analyst with the city of Steamboat Springs who has worked on the Beanpole project, said a contract signed in August 2002 stipulates that NC Telecom must provide an extra day of service for each missed day after Dec. 20.

The $775,000 contract signed last summer with NC Telecom was financed under the $1.37 million Beanpole grant.

The grant was awarded by the state in late 2000 and earmarked to connect public entities in Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties to the state's multi-use network.

No performance bond was negotiated with NC Telecom, which in November 2001 delivered a high-speed Internet connection seven months behind schedule to the Moffat County Public Safety Center under an unrelated 1999 contract with Moffat County.

DelliQuadari said a performance bond was considered.

"We weren't able to do it," she said. "The reality is people can get these services through Qwest, but not as favorable a deal as we got (through NC Telecom)."

City Manager Jim Ferree and the city of Craig are among several entities expecting Internet services paid by the Beanpole grant.

The state dollars are to fund Internet service over three years.

A new high-speed connection serving town hall has been ordered, as well as similar connections to Craig's water and wastewater treatment facilities, and the Road and Bridge Department.

These services would be paid up to three years by the Beanpole grant, when the city would reevaluate its Internet options.

"We felt in two to three years we'll know what the competition will be like," Ferree said.

But the city has yet to see anything in writing from NC Telecom.

Heming said the delays are not limited to paperwork and requests, which entities desiring services off the multi-use network must complete and return to the state.

The actual connection is then requested through Qwest, he said.

However, NC Telecom's "top priority" has nothing to do with connections to the state's multi-use network. Heming said the company is pushing the successful deployment of one circuit: a connection allowing for video conferencing between judges in the Moffat County Courthouse and prisoners in the county's Public Safety Center.

Moffat County connections would be discussed at a scheduled Jan. 28 update on the Beanpole project at a meeting of the Colorado Rural Development Council in Steamboat Springs, he said.

The work order to connect the courthouse and jail was received from Moffat County just before Christmas.

"We didn't receive the request until after our last meeting," said Heming, referring to a Dec. 16 county commissioners meeting, a portion of which was devoted to telecommunications.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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