Thu11272014

Last updateMon, 27 Nov 2017 12am

   201411metrocastweb

Wireless Authority suit against Va. Broadband on hold

The King George Wireless Authority board of directors is expected to hear the latest on the status of a legal complaint for breach of contract filed against Virginia Broadband filed last December 29, 2011.

The update is expected to take place during a closed session for the authority board to hear from legal counsel and discuss negotiating and litigating posture during a meeting on March 20 (following our press time).

The latest legal request took place on March 8 with Virginia Broadband cancelling a pre-trial hearing that had been scheduled for the following day on March 9 in the King George Circuit Court. 

The hearing was removed from the docket, with Virginia Broadband saying, “The parties in this matter are

working to resolve the issues…”

But unless Virginia Broadband has provided the Wireless Authority a big check, it’s probably not resolved, as yet.

That most recent communication to the Clerk of Court’s office on the case took place following numerous filings by both parties including counter claims by Virginia Broadband for breach of contract and fraud and a temporary injunction filed to bar the county and Wireless Authority from removing its equipment from county towers and cell towers that provide the county with access and space.

The initial complaint by the Wireless Authority asked that the court award it $740,000 with interest on the money loaned to Virginia Broadband, along with attorney’s fees and costs for breach of contract regarding payback terms of the loan.

It also outlined its claim that Virginia Broadband failed to perform under the terms of the contract between parties dated January 2008.

The legal actions commenced four months after the Wireless Authority took unanimous action on Aug. 16, 2011, to terminate its contract with Virginia Broadband and to enforce the related security agreements with the Internet service provider.

The enforcement action included pursuing payback with interest on the loan to Virginia Broadband that was part of the county contract with the company following a competitive procurement process to find the most suitable Internet service provider to bring high speed wireless service to King George.

BACKGROUND
The King George County Wireless Authority had been established in December 2006 following enabling legislation by the General Assembly to provide an avenue for rural localities to attempt to secure high speed Internet service for their far-flung residents.

King George was one of the first localities to use the new legislation in its diligent attempt to provide high speed Internet access to its rural residents.

After jumping through numerous hoops required by the enabling legislation, the county had selected Virginia Broadband from among others providing proposals during its competitive procurement process. The agreement between the two parties allowed Virginia Broadband to use existing county-owned or controlled structures, including cell towers and water towers, to install equipment through a lease arrangement in an effort to obtain high-speed internet broadband access throughout the county and oversee its operation and management.

That effort proved to be unsuccessful. 

Despite the Wireless Authority’s efforts to enforce the terms of the agreement, the goals of the project to provide high speed Internet service throughout the county did not happen.

In the meantime, Metrocast Cable, the county’s only cable television franchise, has expanded its service to become a provider of high speed internet to customers within its service area.

In addition, Verizon FIOS has become available to residents in some areas of the county to also provide high speed Internet service.

Also, as evidenced by numerous public comments at a public hearing for establishment of an additional cell tower in the northern part of the county in June 2011, many residents who do not have access to Metrocast or Verizon FIOS have discovered that currently their best bet for high speed Internet service is to access it through their cell phone service.

 

Phyllis Cook

 

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