Thursday, March 10, 2005

"Technology firm signs on with LUS fiber-optic plan"

Heard about this little coup a bit earlier but never got around to posting on it. The Advocate manages a short piece outlining the basic story. It says:
"Global Technology Group is a Lafayette company that provides technology support for companies primarily in the health-care, energy and defense industries."
That is true, but there is more to the back story. Global Tech is one of the companies that has been working with Lafayette's new fiber resources to deliver services that are rare in other places simply because the broadband means to provide them are unavailable at realistic prices. The Independent ran an interesting story giving a bit more detail on their innovation back in January. (You'll have to scroll down past the coverage of Oliver's deceptive little head fake where we all thought that the incumbents might be in honest negotiation with the city. In just a few days Oliver would make the strange negotiating move of suing his negotiating partner. Ahh, nostalgia.) In that story you'll find that Global Tech was providing a virtual telephone network for a local medical group with offices scattered all over the city using VOIP and LUS fiber. According to the story the client company has cut its phone bill in half and is also saving on tech support and Internet service bills. The path forward to a seamless local network inside the IP model is pretty easy to see.

This is precisely the sort of benefit that public ownership of the current fiber network makes possible. A local company, Global Tech, gets to develop its skills (
Kirk Guilbeau gets props for being the guy that made it work) while another local company saves beaucoup money upfront and gains access to efficient new technologies. The hidden benefits are also large: before LUS' fiber, the economics would have pushed the company to bring all its elements together in a single corporate tower--or to have foregone those benefits. For a medical enterprise, and for most service-oriented business, consolidating offices is a matter of weighing the benefits in savings against the losses in business that result from the fact that your new central location is now out of the way for some of your former customers. With an advanced fiber infrastructure you can have cheaper, distributed office space which more effectively serves your public without giving up the benefits of fast, advanced networking.

It is subtle, difficult-to-quantify advantages such as these that will be the chief benefits of making fiber available on every street in the city. The advantages will be available to every person and business with the gumption to pick up on the possibilities offered. Kudos to Global Tech and the Hamilton Medical Group for showing the way.

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