Open Range Communications, which once promised to deliver high-speed wireless broadband to more than 500 rural communities across 17 states using one of the largest in USDA loans in history, is liquidating after it could not find a buyer, according to the Denver Post.
The defunct carrier’s website perhaps said it best, “Open Range has discontinued operations. Please seek another Internet service provider NOW.”
In U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., Nov. 15, officials were advised that a stalking-horse bidder, TotheHome.com, had backed out of an asset deal, reportedly worth $2 million. TotheHome.com is a Minnesota-based rural wireless Internet service provider. Open Range chose the WISP from a pool of bidders to make the first bid, presumably the minimum-acceptable bid, which would have competed with other bids. But that was not to happen.
As the exclusive rural infrastructure partner with LightSquared, Open Range has said that it was harmed by the GPS-related problems suffered by combination satellite/terrestrial carrier.
“Open Range is anxious for the [GPS] issue to be resolved so we can fulfill our vision of delivering the most advanced and interoperable broadband wireless communications services to unserved and underserved rural communities across America,” said then-CEO Bill Beans. “The combination of satellite and Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) services provides the only feasible way to offer meaningful ubiquitous nationwide rural broadband services.”
Open Range’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing listed $114 million in assets and $110 million in debt. Open Range’s largest creditor is the U.S. government, which is owed $73.5 million — much less than the original $267 million loan announced in 2008. Additional funding of $100 million was also secured from One Equity Partners, the private equity arm of JPMorgan Chase, but the firm is listed as being owed only $2.7 million.
Adesta, which designs, builds and maintains communications systems, was listed as the top unsecured creditor at $7.5 million, and Velocitel, a wireless network services company, came in second with $5.5 million. Other unsecured creditors include: Black Dot Wireless, $742,000; AT&T Towers, $344,000; BCI Communications, $260,000; SiteMaster, $175,000; American Tower, $124,000; Crown Castle, $115,000; and SBA Structures, $112,000.
Alvarion, Open Range’s WiMAX technology provider, is listed as an unsecured creditor for $1.9 million, but it expects a one-time charge of $7 million in the form of an inventory write-off, half of it in the form of Alvarion equipment and the other half being equipment ordered from third parties.