Although Cisco and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration - the grant administrator - have pledged to help the state with its review, it's unclear what that actually means. There has been talk of returning or exchanging routers, but Alsop said he wasn't sure if "technically" the state could get a refund at this point.
In a response to a letter from Alsop, Curtis Hill, Cisco vice president for customer assurance, says the company will "support the redeployment or return of routers" identified in the state's analysis.
Alsop's letter mentions the potential for a refund. Hill's letter does not.
"If it comes to a situation where the NTIA says, 'Yes, you have to give us that money back if you get a refund from Cisco, you can't do another procurement to get a smaller router,' I think we're going to have to have some serious discussions and say, 'Well we can't just stick this router here; we need to find a way to move them around' or do whatever, but we need to get to that point," Alsop said.
The state should be at that point at the conclusion of its 30day site study. Alsop said the office is working on forming the team that will conduct the study. No one from the grant implementation team, which was faulted for not studying sites, will be on the new team, Alsop said.
The state will bring in some "independent people" to look at the sites, Alsop said. When asked if that meant the state was hiring consultants, Alsop said no.
He thinks the team will discover most sites do need the larger routers. That plays into the role of the other task force the governor is creating: making sure every community institution "is aware of and maximizing the opportunities" provided by the grant, according to his letter to legislators.
If a community institution has the router and adds additional hardware, it also may function as a "hot spot" for wireless Internet access for a large area, Alsop said by way of example.
In his report, Allred states the routers are too large for at least 610 libraries, schools and state police detachments.
Alsop said Cisco's agreement to extend the warranty for an additional three years was a key benefit for the state. The state paid $8 million for the original warranties, he said. In his letter to Cisco, Alsop points out that many of the routers were not deployed while the state was still paying for warranties.
In addition to agreeing to assist the state and extend the warranties, Hill denies allegations Allred presented in his report. Allred accused Cisco of intentionally misleading the state and called for the particular company employees associated with the deal to be barred from working with the state again.
"We also reject any suggestion that Cisco showed a 'wanton indifference to the interests of the public' and can positively state that we share your desire to maximize the benefits for the people of West Virginia, now and into the future," Hill wrote.
The state pledged several other changes. It will track the location of each router and make sure an official at each location signs an agreement to actually use the one it receives.
Alsop said 40 to 50 routers are still in boxes in a building on the Capitol grounds. An additional 120 are in the "initial stage of deployment" but not usable yet. Some locations have yet to confirm whether their router is even working, he said.
Every router and necessary infrastructure should be installed by June, Alsop wrote in his letter. The governor has pledged his task force will report to the Legislature about the "broadband developments" at the locations by the start of next year.