A residential broadband provider in Minnesota has become the "stalking horse" bidder for the assets of bankrupt Open Range Communications, a Colorado-based rural WiMAX operator that has service in more than 140 markets spanning more than a dozen states.
According to bankruptcy court documents, Open Range has selected tothehome.com, which plans to submit an opening bid of $2 million for Open Range's assets.
Bids from other potential buyers are due Nov. 11 and an auction is scheduled for Nov. 14.
Open Range filed for bankruptcy last month and listed about $114 million in assets and $110 million in debts. It has eliminated more than 120 positions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture granted Open Range a $267 million loan under the Rural Utility Service's broadband loan program in 2008.
In its bankruptcy filing, Open Range partly blamed the FCC's move to discontinue a special license it had with Globalstar in September 2010. The FCC had suspended Globalstar's Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) authority because it hadn't complied with the commission's rules. That left its lease partner Open Range without spectrum, which threatened its funding to roll out WiMAX services to rural communities. When the FCC took away the waiver, Open Range said the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS), slashed its original loan and investors fled.
Open Range has deployed 400 towers across its WiMAX network and still employs 47 people, according to court documents.
- see this Denver Post article
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