WiMAX operator Open Range winding down business, announces massive layoffs

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Open Range Communications, a privately held WiMAX operator with service in more than 140 markets spanning more than a dozen states, announced it will lay off the bulk of its employees and will stop accepting new customers. The company will continue providing service to existing customers. Further, the company's CEO, Bill Beans, resigned last night; the company's CFO Chris Edwards appears to be heading the company now.

Open Range will eliminate around 122 positions, leaving around 48 workers left. Those positions being eliminated include sales representatives, sales managers, sales support and other positions. Essentially, the company is laying off all positions in its markets outside of its headquarters in Greenwood Village, Colo.

The announcement was made this morning in a series of conference calls with employees. A company spokesman did not return requests for additional information.

Open Range was founded in 2004 and launched service in 2009. However, according to a source knowledgeable with the company's operations, Open Range struggled to acquire customers with its data-only, low-cost WiMAX service.

Earlier this year, the company said it counted more than 20,000 subscribers, according to the Denver Business Journal.

Open Range in March inked a deal with LightSquared whereby it plans to transition its operations from the spectrum it leases from Globalstar to LightSquared's planned LTE network. However, LightSquared's network rollout has been hampered by concerns regarding how its planned network could interfere with GPS receivers.

Interestingly, Open Range was awarded a $267 million loan from the Rural Utilities Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the company scored $100 million in equity from One Equity Partners, the private equity investment unit of JPMorgan Chase. It's unclear exactly how the company will address those finances.

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Correction, Oct. 5, 2011: This article originally incorrectly stated that Open Range received loans as part of the federal government's broadband stimulus program. Open Range received government loans, but those loans were not part of the broadband stimulus program.