American History of Business Journalism

Best Business Stories: Amid Telecom Ruins, a Fortune is Buried

In: Awards Apr 2013 Comments: 0

“Amid Telecom Ruins, a Fortune is Buried” by Jeffrey Kosseff, The Oregonian, Dec. 8, 2002.
The article was included in “Best Business Stories 2004.” 

Oregon experienced one of the most extravagant building booms in its history during the late ’90s. But today the state has little to show for about $1 billion invested in what was billed at the time as essential infrastructure.

The money is buried — most of it along the Interstate 5 corridor — in the form of more than 140,000 miles of fiber-optic cable. At most, 5 percent of the fiber is being used.

Forget dot-coms. The truly excessive overinvestment of the technology boom was in the Internet’s pipeline, the hair-thin strands of glass that snake across the state and nation, carrying pulses of light that translate into huge volumes of e-mail messages, Web pages and online video.

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