Thursday, September 16, 2004

And Now it Begins Again

There are two sizable stories to cover today but the bottom line on both is the same: the Fiber To The Home conflict is about to heat up again.

One story is contained in today's Advertiser article "Study favorable to fiber plan" and the other is the presentations of Leonard Ray of the Fiber to the Home Council and Mayor Billings of Provo, Utah at this morning's IndExpo LUS sponsored "Bytes Before Breakfast" event. You'll get more here today on the presentations this morning.

But without doubt the feasibility study that is the focus of the Advertiser article will be more talked about over the next two months and will be the target of incumbent attack that are sure to follow. The article is short on detail but describes a feasibility study that is generally very favorable to LUS' fiber plan. It projects "take rates" (the percentage of the market that "takes" the service) that are 40% higher than is needed to pay the project off in a timely manner. All in all, good news for those who favor, as we do here, a publicly owned fiber optic network in Lafayette.

Caveats: The feasibility study is based on a tentative business plan; one that LUS is releasing only because it (unlike any private corporation) was forced to release the feasibility study by Cox and the Louisiana Cable Television Association demanding the study under freedom of information laws. They want it simply because they want 1) to have something to attack and 2) to have enough lead time to try and undercut LUS' advantages wherever the can. Yes, this is unfair, and no, no other business would have to tolerate the competition prying into their planning process. Recall all this when Cox tells you they are only fighting this fight for your benefit. NO, they are doing it for their own profit.

Highlights:
  • The battle royal will last at least about two months; that is the length of time LUS is projecting that it will be before the plan is finalized and presented to the City-Parish Council for a vote.
  • The new cost is projected to be about 119 million; about 20 percent higher than earlier estimates. Expect this to be the first line of attack.
  • Bottom line of the study: this is very feasible. Based on what I've looked at their numbers are very conservative.
  • Look for changes. The plan has not been finalized.
We are getting a copy of the feasibility study. More when we have some time to digest it.

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