11.30.2010

Burlington Telecom: The repo man comes calling

In headier, more optimistic times, Burlington Telecom handed out tshirts as tchotchkes, packaged neatly in little single-serving cereal boxes, the conceit being, that Burlington Telecom was "Fiber-iffic!"

As recently as October 2010, you could still pick up useless items like euro stickers and pens at a Burlington Telecom booth at the Vermont 3.0 event... perhaps they should have been soliciting donations in a tin cup.

It's all over but the lawyering. Burlington Telecom's largest creditor, Citi Capital, has decided to repossess any and all physical assets (BFP) in an attempt to recover some of the funds borrowed to keep the doomed municipal enterprise alive.

I don't intend to write a long post analyzing this situation -- I have done this already -- previous posts of this topic can be read here. I always thought that this scheme was a bad idea, and suspected that the city of Burlington did not have the managerial acumen and entrepreneurial spirit to pull it off successfully.

And, while the economy remains very weak and the current administration in Burlington is inept and possibly criminal, it's my belief that Burlington Telecom was a bad idea right from the start.

Neither better economic times nor a more competent administration could have made it work: It cost too much, and has a small service area with relatively few potential customers, and operates in a very competitive marketplace.

But, on a more personal note, I am pessimistic by nature: torpor, gloom, and vivid imaginings of bad things come naturally to me. This can be a curse and a big limiting factor in all aspects of my life, and contributes to my long personal litany of, if not outright failure, missed opportunities.

Sometimes, however, a gloomy and suspicious disposition is a wonderful thing. When Burlington Telecom was originally proposed in the 1990s, I was living in Burlington and working in the Internet business. The concept seemed far-fetched and pie-in-the-sky then, so I voted against the initiative... my doubts have been proven by events over time.

And, for similar reasons, I view projects like the proposed redevelopment of the Moran Plant in Burlington, or the governor-elect's promise of single-payer heath insurance, with quite a bit of suspicion.

No comments: