Tuesday, March 01, 2005

LUS announces FTTP deal with the school board

I sat in on the early session of the council meeting today and was treated to Terry Huval's announcement of a deal with the Lafayette School System to provide Fiber to the Premises for every school in the Parish.

The deal with the school system will provide 100-megabit service to every school in the parish and one-gigabit service to the central offices and several of the high schools.

Current service is a stunningly inadequate 1.5 megs to each school. That's the equivalent of low-end residential service speed that has to be shared by every classroom, the administration and the library. That's like having a single commode for the whole school; you'd spend more time in line than learning. One hundred megs will adequately fund even the largest school for all but the most advanced uses. But one gig would open up extremely interesting video and game-based curriculum. This was something I once worked with and so still follow from a distance. As I understand it the army is now teaching recruits Arabic via immersive video games. Misunderstand the word "duck" in Arabic and you pay the ultimate price.... There is huge potential here and real possibilities for providing very advanced, specialized, and in some cases mandated "special services" that are now forbiddingly expensive for much, much less. Education is communication and it is hard to underestimate the possibilities of making two-way communications to anywhere in the world, with any degree of complexity, cheaply available to all. It's something ed tech folks dream about.

Playing the numbers game reveals that the new 100-meg service will be 66 times as fast as the old. For about 7 percent more in cost you get broadband that is actually usable. That's great.

The schools in the city will get their fiber by the end of the year while those in the parish will get it sometime next year.

And that is part of the news too. The fiber running to parish schools outside the city will be a large-scale advance of fiber to customers outside the city. My guess is that LUS would like to pull all that fiber in nice fat conduits that would make it easy to turn the runs into solid backbones with relative ease. That might be a little fantasy, but it would seem sensible to me. Some businesses might like to get good fiber out where the land is even cheaper. (As did, cough, cough, Cingular.)

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