Firm’s bankruptcy crashes customers’ Internet service
An Internet service provider in the valley shut down suddenly last week after declaring bankruptcy, leaving about 200 customers without e-mail, Internet or their own Web sites.BroadBand West, which operated in the Roaring Fork Valley and Grand Junction, was forced to shut down Thursday night after failing to pay Colorado communications giant Qwest $111,000 to keep its circuits on.BroadBand West, which had been suffering financial problems for about a year, was purchased by Denver-based Rock Solid Broadband (RSB) in November 2003.In an e-mail to customers on Thursday RSB warned that it had filed for bankruptcy in March to help the company’s stability. But, as the e-mail says, when an agreement couldn’t be reached with Qwest, BroadBand West was left to convert to Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which completely dissolves the business.”We’ve done everything we could to stay in Chapter 11 and fight for our customers,” said Lance Brown, RSB vice president of marketing. “We worry about people’s Internet access, and we tried and tried to fix that network up there. But we ran out of time with Qwest, and they didn’t want to negotiate with us anymore.”Qwest, which owns the copper or fiber-optic lines in the ground, is the underlying provider of all Internet service providers (ISPs) in Colorado. Provider companies pay to use the lines to deliver services to customers – although Qwest and the ISPs are competitors, they collaborate to use the same communication lines.In this case, however, BroadBand West’s bills with Qwest had stacked up over time. Officials at Rock Solid Broadband and other ISPs in the valley wouldn’t comment on what led to the financial woes, and Scott Young, former owner of BroadBand West, couldn’t be found for comment.”I can’t really speak to Rock Solid, but I saw it coming with BroadBand West,” said Paul Huttenhower, president of Sopris Surfers ISP in Carbondale. He wouldn’t elaborate.He did say about 40 former BroadBand West customers had called his office on Friday morning to discuss switching their service.Chris Berry, a board member at RoFIntUG in Glenwood Springs, said the bankruptcy had “definitely caused some ripples” and put RoFIntUG “through some drama recently.”RoFIntUG (Roaring Fork Internet User’s Group) was one of BroadBand West’s customers, and the company quickly switched to Qwest on Thursday evening so 3,000 valley customers wouldn’t lose dial-up service.”It was really important for us to rebuild that company, because that’s what Rock Solid does – we acquire wireless companies,” Brown said of the acquisition of BroadBand West. “But BroadBand West was a bad egg when we bought it, and we didn’t realize that. We tried for five, six months to make the service reliable, and there were too many obstacles in our way.”Brown said the company officials are encouraging people to switch providers, and in the e-mail to customers they included names of providers in the valley, including Sopris Surfers, RoFIntUG, Front Range Internet and Network 21.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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