Sunday, October 24, 2004

Consultant: Telecom plan feasible

The Advocate story that interviews the LUS consultant Doug Dawson, points out a few of the happy consequences of being big:
"LUS' size makes the plan more financially feasible than other communities that have done similar projects, Dawson said.

The reason: economy of scale."
Dawson means mostly that one-of-a-kind purchases like backend electronics are spread over more users and that larger purchases in fiber optics, as elsewhere, get a volume discount. True enough.

But that simplest of all demographic advantage over other communities, size, will likely render other benefits as well. Anyone wanting to do a proof-of-concept shakedown for a well-funded consumer-oriented project over broadband will look first to size and for those that want a large sample size Lafayette, as the largest municipal build out of high bandwidth optical fiber will instantly be in the running. Specialty services that anticipate that only 2 to 10% of the population will ever purchase will likewise need a large installed base to make even a trial sensible.

But Lafayette's demographic advantage doesn't stop with size. Lafayette will also be the most diverse city to sport a municipal fiber optic network that makes its services available to every citizen. Most fiber builds are in cities that, lets look at it straight on, are whiter than carrera marble and most often wealthy enough to afford it as well. Wealth and community cohesion have been almost prerequisites for fiber to date. And even when those prerequisites are met a corporate provider does not price fiber cheaply or run it to the poorer parts of town. Lafayette will have a larger percentage of minority and poorer citizens than any community with a comparable broadband infrastructure. Should LUS follow through with its commitments to foster the ownership of inexpensive computers more of the barrier to entry for wide adoption of fiber by all segments of the community will be removed than will be the case in other locale. Lafayette will offer a window into a community which is 25 years ahead of its time in terms of widespread adoption of broadband technology basics.

—The demographic advantages that Lafayette will bring to the table will go far beyond volume discounts on start-up equipment.

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