Friday, October 15, 2004

Going Offline for Online News

Its gotta be some sorta obscure irony that the most interesting, in-depth Lafayette stories on broadband and LUS' fiber optic network are pretty much unavailable online.

Get thee to your corner restaurant, local convenience store or favorite coffee shop and pick up the latest Independent for a really worthwhile story and two substantial sidebars. An embaressment of riches for your local fiber digester.

The base article gives the story the space it needs and runs the gamut from potential revenue for the city to development possibilities to glimpses into the technical issues.

What is most interesting, and most valuable is the slowly emerging details of the project rollout and probable implementation. Its heartening to hear LUS opening up a bit. We learn, for instance, of an initial roll-out of 40 million intended to limit the financial risk by testing the take rates with real subscribers. We discover that the system will be "capable of" 40 megs down and 20 up, that out-of-state contractors are already swarming off the Interstate and down Evangeline Thruway, that roughly half of the outlay will be in labor, a bit more about contentious digital divide issues, and that competition in cable has resulted in rates 15 to 41 lower than in areas (like ours) without real competition. There's more but you'll have to ferret out your own copy.

There's a meaty sidebar on EATEL being slowly forced out of the local market by FCC rulings (a point made here--and repeatedly) and BellSouth's determination to shut others out of the last mile connection to the home. It gives readers enough background for them to begin to understand why line leasing was initially mandated and what the feds are retreating on when they turn the monopoly back over to the inheritors of Ma Bell. The story also hints at what the community might be losing in terms of support of community activities by the retreat of EATEL to its home base to build its own fiber network.

A little stranger is the "Lafayette Unplugged" sidebar which gingerly takes a look at the noticably insubstantial claims by a local man that he intends to build a wifi network to cover 50 square miles inside the city. More credibly, but less positively, it also cites Terry Huval saying how easy it would be for LUS to add a wireless net to the fiber build. (Shades of my quintuple play fantasy.) LUS making a wireless play makes a lot more sense as I see it. And I want my VOIP phone on top of that.

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