Originally published: June 16, 2009
Last updated: June 16, 2009 - 9:25pm
Five years ago, Sherwood (OR) leaders ambitiously set out to build and operate a fiber-optic network creating Internet connections to every home and business. They promised that the enterprise would pay for itself -- and then some, creating excess revenue for other city projects. So far, that hasn't happened. Plagued by loose planning and oversight, Sherwood's experience exemplifies the risks and challenges of government-funded Internet projects now running in a handful of Oregon communities. Sherwood Broadband has been subsidized by $1.55 million in taxpayer money. It has missed revenue projections by nearly one-third while expenses have been more than one-quarter over budget. It serves about two dozen business locations -- nearly half of them outside city limits -- and about 50 wireless users each day. One elected official publicly called it a "significant money loser." Sherwood leaders acknowledge missteps, particularly minimal marketing and sales efforts. But officials say they are developing a new strategy. And they insist that the 60-mile network could eventually lead to new jobs and economic development.
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