Thursday, November 11, 2004

LUS service fate in council's hands

Kevin Blanchard at the Advocate follows up on yesterday's article about the city-parish council meeting with an article that focuses on the ground-level politics.

It covers city/rural politics, new estimates of the risks and benefits of the plan, changing technologies, and digital divide issues.

A good overview. Get it at the Advocate Online: LUS service fate in council's hands

The section on city/rural politics includes a fairly serious typo; the story is missing a crucial "not." It should (in my judgment) read, with missing not inserted:

Consultant Doug Dawson, who LUS hired to conduct a feasibility study on the project -- and who has done several similar projects around the country -- said that similar areas have [NOT] seen the "rate retaliation" that Badeaux described.

The "political pressure" against the companies would be too intense, Dawson said.
Dawson was clear on this; additionally it just isn't the way that these corporations operate. They set rates for an entire region. The Public Service Commission would simply not allow BellSouth to mess with their rates this way. Cox would have to specifically single out communities near Lafayette to punish for Lafayette's "bad behavior." In addition to being clearly unfair (it isn't their fault Lafayette is building fiber) it would be disastrous politics. Since they will not be able to raise, and will more likely lower rates in Lafayette, punishing the innocent will be painfully obvious. In response the smaller cities have plenty of great ways to "punish" franchisees who abuse their monopoly over landlines in this way. Of course, that assumes that they had any business left when the franchise was renewed--if Cox did something this in a region where I lived I'd cheerfully lead a movement to "patriotically" move to any satellite provider that promised to keep their rates the same as they were charging in Lafayette. Add to that the raw fact that, as Huval and Dawson noted, it would be an open invitation for LUS to move in and would prompt local municipalities to grant very favorable terms, allowing LUS to replace Cox. No. "Rate retaliation" has never happened and will never happen for good, solid reality-based reasons. No matter how badly Cox would like to scare particular councilmen about it.

Update 2:50 11/11/04:
Just got an email to the effect that Kevin Blanchard will be correcting the online version of the story. —So don't be too surprised if you visit and find that all is well online.

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