Monday's New York Times carries a story on BellSouth that includes a look at the challenges and opportunities the company faces.
Cable is identified as the big threat. And it's being pressed across BellSouth's nine-state service area by the likes of Cox, Comcast and Charter. The story notes that BellSouth, like its Regional Bell Operating Company brethren SBC and Verizon, is scrambling to develop a video offering so that they can compete more directly with cable companies which are moving into telephony.
The infrastructure they will deploy to enter this business? Fiber optic networks. This tracks the BellSouth network road map presented a couple of weeks ago in Baton Rouge at the Louisiana Optical Network (LONI) conference.
The article also highlights the importance of Cingular to BellSouth's financial wellbeing. And mentions the possibility that the company may pursue a merger with AT&T that it passed on earlier.
The overall theme of the article is that BellSouth is beginning to shed some of its reputation for stodginess. It calls to mind that advertising campaign for that GM line of autos: "Not your father's Oldsmobile." Worked well for them, didn't it?
Actually, changing corporate culture is one of the toughest challenges in business. It's made all the more difficult by a rapidly evolving market place like BellSouth finds itself in now. The degree to which BellSouth is able to succeed at this transformation will determine whether the company prospers, declines into a takeover prospect, or goes the way of Oldsmobile.
LUS's fiber to the premises project is both emblematic of the challenges BellSouth faces, and the least of the company's worries. It's companies like Cox that pose the true threat. That's why this Lafayette alliance between these two corporate adversaries is so unnatural.