Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Councilman undecided on LUS telecom plan 10/12/04

According to a Blanchard article in the Advocate Chris Williams is questioning LUS' plan, asking for reassurances on universal service and digital divide issues and mouthing the incumbent's talking points:
Williams said his support will hinge in part on whether LUS still intends on hooking up each residence in the city of Lafayette and whether it intends on following through on the idea of providing low-cost to free computers for lower-income residents. ...

"Now we just need to make sure that the risks involved warrant this," Williams said.

Williams said he also is concerned whether the plan would be fair to Lafayette businesses that already provide similar services -- such as Cox and BellSouth.
No doubt the performance I saw last night and blogged below is in at least some significant part a product of the conflict reported in this article and needs to be interpreted in that context. Mayor Durel was making the journey to the Martin Luther King community center to testify in public and before Williams constituents that he was still in favor of the idea of pushing computers into the community and that the price savings that constitute the immediate benefit to Williams district would be substantial. He discussed a few more details of his plan for 'free' computers last night and cited a higher discount, 25 to 45%, than the official feasibility study mentions.

Its hard not to see Williams' raising the issue as much beyond a political ploy to push commitments to digital divide issues out into the public consciousness. I can't credit that Williams' could possibly vote against LUS on this—his constituents are too clearly major beneficiaries—and I can't credit that all involved don't recognize this. But LUS and the city-parish have to desire unanimity on this and Williams is using that to push for a clearer commitment to getting a computer in the home who'd have a hard time affording one.

The other stuff is window dressing: universal service is a solid commitment to which LUS has never wavered and given its' utility worldview never will; the nod to the "local" business of Cox and BellSouth is transparent a smokescreen—if Williams isn't outraged by the antics of these outsiders he hasn't been paying attention.

I can't say that I like the window dressing stuff...it's never a good idea to mislead the public into believing that areas of agreement are insecure just to engage in a little arm twisting...but I do like the idea of bringing parts of the LUS plan that are not visible into the light of public discussion. And the digital divide issues are one of the elements that we really ought to be talking about and getting public input.

This is certainly an area in which public discussion and buy-in are crucial. Let's talk about how to best make sure that new public services benefit us all.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Word on the street is that BellSouth is attempting to lay FTTC as fast as possible. Workers are in "rich" neighborhoods charged with laying Fiber as quickly as possible.

Why? Because Bellsouth has said that the LUS FTTH plan is a redundant system... "we already have it". No they don't! Now they are just trying make it look like they do.

If you see a BellSouth worker roaming your neighborhood right of ways, you should ask them what they are doing.

Competition really is good. Go BellSouth, Go Cox, Go LUS!

John said...

Yo Anon,

Hey, I'd love to know more. I think a fiber run would be very easy to see and that you wouldn't need to ask the guys on the truck about it.

Frankly, until I see spools of fiber being unrolled I'm gonna be extremely cynical about hints that BellSouth is about to lay fiber in our community. The Bells are past famous for promising fiber to get regulatory relief or to head off competition and then not following through on the expensive commitment.

(In fact a ruling is due this very day from the FCC that promises to "relieve" BellSouth of the responsibility of actually running fiber to the home in order to get the regulatory break they were promised for doing so. They want to close their system so that the EATEls, AT&Ts etc. can no longer compete with them. If they do run fiber it won't be because they want to "enhance competition" but shut it down--trust me on that one.)

Doesn't it strike you as a bit suspcious that we hear this rumour as in the final weeks before a vote by the city-parish council? My guess: spin and hot air.

John said...

Oh yeah, I've been reminded that this may well come under the heading of "uncertainty" in the infamous FUD tripod of fear, uncertainty and Doubt.

See our take on this loser strategy at: http://lafayetteprofiber.com/OnBackground/FUD.html It might be fun (we hope so) to visit our front page and review the links to our disinfo alert system for ways to help defend yourself, family, and community from disinformation attacks.

:-)

Doug Menefee said...

Check out today's announcement in the Advocate about BellSouth running FTTC. The FCC ruling came down today.