Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"Durel: BellSouth fiber offer falls way short"

Here's what I think the headline really ought to be: "BellSouth "Proposes" to Take Us for Fools, Durel Declines to be Fooled"

As the details of BellSouths "proposal" are revealed in this Advertiser story it looks like BellSouth isn't really offering to do anything that it hasn't publicly announced are in its plans for its entire footprint. This sounds an awful lot like the offer that kicked up such a fuss in November.

Here is the deal: At a moment when their cable competition is driving them to the wall across their footprint BellSouth is gearing up for an ADSL rollout that it has been plannig, but failing to implement for years. This year they got license from the FCC to rollout their Fiber to the Curb without having to share the lines with competing phone services (this is why EATEL no longer has an active presence in Lafayette). They still haven't started rolling it out. Soon we hear soon. Meanwhile they are already trialing some sort of WiMax precursor in Atlanta and in Florida.

Oh yeah, and if we want all our people served we've got to pay them off. And even then they are only willing to provide it to most. No solid promises. If anyone has any doubt that this fiber to the curb, ADSL stuff is about readlining out the least profitable parts of our city (and every city) let this proposal make one thing clear: even under the greatest possible competitive stress BS won't serve more than 80% of the people without government handouts.

Lafayette would get nothing from this deal that they aren't already planning to do just to compete with Cox. To say nothing of LUS's fiber of which they are justly terrified. Here is what they aren't saying: Should the referendum pass they'll have to roll out these services in two years just to avoid falling so far behind their competition as to make them a laughing stock. Vote for the LUS plan and watch BellSouth actually move us up on their list for a change. Not to do us a favor or to give their customers what they want. No--for reasons BellSouth find sensible: to preserve their competitive position. After this proposal it's clear that this is all that will lead them to offer us advanced services at a competitive price.

But go read it yourself. Some of the juiciest quotes:

BellSouth's plans are to expand its fiber optics broadband network in Lafayette, reaching about 80 percent of households with high-speed Internet, video and broadband services at speeds up to 24 Mbps within four years...

BellSouth's plans are to expand its fiber optics broadband network in Lafayette, reaching about 80 percent of households with high-speed Internet, video and broadband services at speeds up to 24 Mbps within four years, Oliver wrote.

The company proposed public involvement in the form of financial support from the city such as cash, tax credits, incentives "or other possible forms of payments or concessions..."

"What they can offer is about one percent of what fiber-to-the-home can offer," Durel said. "It falls 99 percent short. It doesn't prepare Lafayette for the future."

BellSouth representatives said they may be able to offer 24 Mbps in four years, Durel said. LUS signed a deal with the Lafayette Parish School Board to provide 100 Mbps today, he said.

And at the end Joey nails it:
Durel said his door remains open to proposals that will set Lafayette apart from the rest of the country using fiber optics.
This plan does nothing to distinguish Lafayette. It's the ultimate faux partnership...one side gives what they were going to do anyway and the other side gets....what? BS. It's not a good trade.

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