In the final closing sale June 3, Lake Connections was sold to Pinpoint Holdings, Inc., for $8.4 million, and control over the high-speed broadband system was handed over.
But if Pinpoint is the new owner, why does a visit lakeconnections.com take a user to the homepage of a company called Zito Media?
What is Zito Media?
Zito Media President James Rigas explained that Zito is the new management company for the system.
"We worked with Pinpoint to come to an agreement because we were both interested in the system," Rigas said. "So we decided to work together and come to an arrangement where they would lead the acquisition and we’d take over the management."
Rigas confirmed that Zito has plans to take over official ownership of the system within a few months "provided the franchise agreements work out and the powers that be OK it."
So when former Lake Connections customers receive bills this month, they will be from Zito Media.
With the closing of the sale at the start of June, management was passed over to Zito Media. The News-Chronicle received a handful of reports of individuals with internet connection trouble during the first three days of the transition. Rigas said the transition was "bumpy," but that most of the "major issues were resolved in the first few days."
"The system itself is fantastic. It’s all fiber optic and good quality," Rigas said. "But when there are three or four parties involved in this type of transition, it can complicate things."
The parties involved include Zito Media, the former management system Consolidated Telephone Co., county employees and the customers.
"With all of those moving pieces, some things were missed," Rigas said. "When that happens, it’s not so much about pointing fingers, but figuring out what we can do to get things resolved quickly and efficiently."
One of the main issues Rigas cited was having to work with customers to make adjustments to their routers to accept the transition.
“I do think, in the end, everyone worked relatively well together and everything should be working smoothly by now,” Rigas said.
Lake Connections history
In 2010, the board received a $56 million loan and $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utility Service to construct the network. Over three years, more than 1,200 miles of a fiber network was built in Lake County and parts of eastern St. Louis County. Most of the network was completed in June 2015.
In June 2017, the county entered into a deferral agreement with RUS for principal and interest on the condition the county sell the network to a private company or entity. Two months later, the county executed a memorandum of understanding with RUS in which RUS agreed to accept to the sale price of Lake Connections in full satisfaction of the county’s debt for construction of the network.
When the deferral agreement was executed, the county owed approximately $48.5 million on the RUS loan.