Open Range customers still smarting from internet service collap

Open Range customers still smarting from internet service collapse

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GADSDEN, AL (WBRC) -

Customers say even though they saw trouble on the horizon, they were still surprised when their internet service recently ceased operations.

The Colorado-based Open Range internet, which filed for bankruptcy in October, sent out an email November 17th telling customers they would cease all operations of its internet and home phone service the next day.  They also requested customers mail back their modems at their own expense.

"The service was great, never had one day of problem with it, until we heard that they were going bankrupt, " recalled Michael Driskell of Gadsden.  "Kind of heartbroken.  It was a nice product, worked well, and I really miss it."

A unique feature of the Open Range modem was that it could be taken to a different house, hotel room, etc. and if it was near another Open Range tower, would still work just as well.  Driskell took his to work where co-workers could log on as well.

Laconya Smith and her husband, Vann, run Communications, Etc. in Gadsden, which had been an Open Range dealer.  She says Open Range fired its other vendors a month earlier and kept them on, but they didn't find out the company went under until their own modems went silent and customers started calling.

"And they were just wondering pretty much what happened, and the only thing we could tell them is that, we gave them the 1-800 number, that referred them to the online, and the online was telling them to go and call the 1-800 number," she recalled.

Open Range received a Department of Agriculture loan and stimulus funding, and still owes the government some reported $70 million dollars.  Open Range boasted of being able to bring internet service to rural areas not served by other providers…now, those customers are reporting having bad luck finding a replacement provider.

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