Monday, November 08, 2004

BellSouth, Cox Raise Stakes on Louisiana City's FTTP Plan

Telephony Online posts a story about Lafayette's proposed municipal fiber optic system that implies that Lafayette is getting triple play services in response to LUS' proposal. The reporter reviews the legislative, legal, and publicity-based strategies typically rolled out by the incumbents and tried in Lafayette. He then follows that by announcing a new incumbent strategy premiered in Lafayette:
But in Lafayette, the debate took a new turn as incumbent service providers shifted from denigrating public fiber to promising their own triple-play deployments, posing the prospect of a rare three-way market for voice, video and data. Earlier in the year, BellSouth argued it could use its DirecTV partnership to eventually deliver video service to the town. But on the heels of a recent regulatory decision freeing it from obligations to unbundle fiber networks, the telco assured Lafayette residents that it could soon deliver triple-play services using fiber-to-the-curb. Late last month, Cox announced it would add voice to its video and broadband offerings for Lafayette in November.
As attractive (and superficially sensible) as is the idea that the incumbents are developing triple-plays and fiber build plans because of Lafayette's proposed fiber build the truth is that it is only hype that is changed for Lafayette consumption. None of the services mentioned in the article, including a recent speed upgrade from Cox, are really things which are outside the realm of either "already planned" or "all talk and no cattle." It's hard to even argue that Lafayette has been moved to the head of the line for planned upgrades. Baton Rouge got both the Cox speed upgrade and VOIP services on the preannounced schedule and Lafayette got them later. BellSouth's hints are in the "all talk" category. As Mike has ably pointed out BellSouth is stretched for investment capital. Until we see boots on the ground there is no reason to believe that BellSouth will make the investment necessary to challenge Cox, much less Cox and LUS in Lafayette.

No, these triple play packages, "lite" though they may be compared to LUS' potential offerings, were conceived as part of the ongoing battle between Cox and BellSouth and are being rolled out wherever these two are in conflict .

I am sure that the writer knows that the idea that LUS' plan caused the incumbents to offer these triple play packages is doubtful because I told him so plainly. Still he got most of what we discussed right even if he got the name wrong, attributing my words to Mike—who is most definitely not retired.

Anyway, getting some national press is fun for both Lafayette and LafayetteProFiber. Expect heavy national coverage for the city in the next two weeks! Should Lafayette succeed LUS will be rolling out the largest fiber to the home deployment in the nation. In some quarters that's real news...

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