Wednesday, November 10, 2004

November 9th Council Meeting: Council Questions

By far the most interesting part of the Council meeting was the Councilmen's Q and A session. One got the feeling that a lot of the Questions were "for the record"—designed to get objections or points put on the public record.

Still things did come out.

In response to councilman Badeaux's concern over the rural parts of the parish there was a bit more discussion of what it would take to move LUS out into the parish and the possibilities of partnering with other utilities to take advantage of LUS's telecom backend investments. Dawson mentioned this was already happening in Bristol; a fact which no doubt adds to the incumbent's fear and loathing.

Benjamin pushed for an assurance that the rollout wouldn't abandon his Northside, black constituents till last and received a rundown on the topography of the new network. Apparently it will be designed around hubs located at each of the 14 electrical substations and two will be chosen for the initial rollout that will represent samples of all of Lafayette. The idea is to sample take rates and the sorts of bundles that sell best in each category. Wouldn't you like to be in the first two segments?

Williams pushed the digital divide issue and extracted a promise that LUS would come before the council with a plan six months after the plan is approved. Williams could have been happier and clearly would have liked some gesture toward that in the feasibility study. Perhaps LUS wants to delay this until after the approval so that it can have a public discussion of how to best proceed without incumbent sniping on the plan. I hope. LUS has apparently talked to Dell, HP, and Sun about using older computers on this and I know they've considered leasing computers. Both Huval and Williams are right about there respective points. Huval points out that the really intractable part of the digital divide is making the monthly service affordable. LUS promises to really make it cheaper and that can be a huge thing--a user could buy a triple play for the price they were previously paying for phone and cable, getting the internet basically for free. But Williams is right too: without a computer that is useless. Getting a computer into the hands of folks who have a hard time affording their monthly phone bill is also essential to overcoming the digital divide.

Broussard wanted a better sense of what the offerings would be. I don't get the impression he got what he wanted but he did receive confirmation that the 85 dollar package that has been bandied about is the middle tier. There will be a more expensive as well as a less expensive one.

Interesting, all in all. I'll leave the rest for the papers. Night.

No comments: