Open Range gets bankruptcy judge to shield parts of inquiry

Open Range Communications, which has filed for bankruptcy protection and is liquidating its assets, secured an order from a federal bankruptcy judge to keep confidential details of an investigation into Open Range's claims against the government.

On Monday, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Carey approved an order to keep under wraps details of an investigation into whether Open Range had any "viable claims" against the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utility Service (RUS), the FCC and others. Open Range had sought the protective order because the investigation involved "certain confidential documents," including trade secrets, customer and supplier lists and pricing information.

The RUS gave Open Range a $267 million loan guarantee in 2008 to provide rural broadband services. The outstanding balance of the loan, which was the largest in a series of loans made to rural broadband providers between 2002 and 2008, remains $73.5 million. Earlier this month the House Energy and Commerce committee launched an investigation into the loan and RUS oversight of the loan.

Open Range said earlier this month that it would liquidate its assets and shut down service immediately in 12 states. The company is directing customers to find other broadband alternatives and even requested that customers mail back their modems at their own expense. Privately held Open Range operated a WiMAX network in more than 140 markets spanning more than a dozen states. Earlier this year, the company said it counted more than 20,000 subscribers.

For more:
- see this Washington Times article
- see ths WBRC article

Related Articles:
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Government launches probe into $267M Open Range loan
WiMAX operator Open Range up for sale, but who's buying?
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