It really is pretty astonishing the lengths to which Ms Klienpeter will go. Let us start with the most dramatic falsehoods and advance to the minor bits of misdirection.
In Bristol, Va., where a fiber network was recently constructed, residents experienced rate increases of 40 percent in electric, 22.4 percent in water and 4 percent in sewer. Without cross-subsidization protections, Lafayette could see similar increases.That's just dishonest and, frankly with the reams of material that have been published on this question, I have to believe Ms Kleinpeter knows that its not true--or she should start doing a little fact-checking of her own before signing her name. Virginia, like Louisiana, has a law which prohibits public telecommunications utilities (but not private ones) from using income derived from one branch of the business to "cross-subsidize" its telecom business. That's not the end of the similarity: the local phone incumbent in Virginia, Sprint, sued alleging cross-subsidization when Bristol Utilities undercut their phone prices. The ensuing, costly battle resulted in Bristol being cleared of the charges more than a year ago. This is a matter of easily accessible public record and Ms Kleinpeter does her reputation (and credibility with those of us across the basin) no good in repeating a disproven charge in a transparent attempt to make us distrust our local utility.
The specific numbers she site, 40%, 22.4% and 4% sound solidly factual but are similarly deceptive and are just as easily shown to be unrelated to Bristol's fiber project. For instance, the dramatic 40% jump in electricity prices was a cause for concern locally, as you might imagine. But the Bristol paper reports a story that has no fiber involvement:
Bristol Virginia Utilities' 38 percent power rate increase may be a significant spike for its customers, but the new charges will be more in line with those of other electric systems.
BVU's seven-year contract with Cinergy ends Dec. 31, and the utility has entered into a three-year wholesale supply agreement with American Electric Power, effective Jan. 1. The switch is costing BVU 81.81 percent more, half of which it's absorbing and the other half it is passing on to customers.
So the truth is that the local utility, which had negotiated an unusually favorable rate for its customers couldn't get as good a rate when it had to look for a new supplier. It absorbed half the cost of the increase with the net result that its customers, who had enjoyed years of unusually low rates, now paid something much closer to, though apparently still a little lower than, the going regional rate. Relationship of this issue to the utility offering competitive, inexpensive, phone, cable, and internet over fiber to its citizens? None at all.
So Bristol has not been cross-subsidizing its telecommunications division and local increases in utility costs have nothing to do with the cheaper services the telecommunications division is offering the community. Regardless of what the competition would have you believe is true.
Now on to mere misdirection:
First, It's LUS, a local public utility, not "the local government" that will be competing with Cox and offering lower cable prices to Lafayette citizens; something Kleinpeter well knows. She just doesn't think it would get her company as much sympathy to try and stir up resentment against a local utility if she used the more accurate terms.
Second, I don't think that Mr. Huval has ever said that "government" (or even LUS) needs cross-subsidization. After all, though admittedly under duress, LUS agreed to the law that includes that clause. I do think that Huval and LUS have asked for the same rules applied to LUS by the "Fair" Competition Act apply to private providers. That's what one of the bills Ms. Kleinpeter lumps together and dismisses would do. Cox is opposed. Why? Is it because the Cox conglomerate would like to retain its freedom to be able to cross-subsidize its business in Lafayette on the backs of millions of rate-payers across the US and to use the proceeds of any of its other newspaper and media business to fund its (un)Fair Competition in Lafayette?
Third, Cox -- who used to tell us that fiber was like an unnecessary luxury car -- is now playing little games of misdirection in implying that its "state-of-the-art fiber network" is desirable. Of course Cox has the same hybrid fiber-coax system that it had before it started billing itself a fiber network and handing out little flashlights with a bunch of plastic fibers attached to one end at community events. At least Cox understands now that we want fiber--but what we actually want is Fiber To The Home. And that is what we voted for.
Fourth, it is Fiber to the Home (FTTH) that we voted for on July 16th last year. Nobody that voted for the FTTH initiative was voting to support the restrictions that Cox and BellSouth put on our local project with the help of the legislature. They were voting to support the project. It was the people who voted against the project, and lost 62 to 38%, that were worried about such issues. Cox isn't worried about "fair play" or your utility rates. Implying that the peoples' vote somehow supported Cox and BellSouth's position must rank as some sort of new high in the art of corporate misdirection and misinformation.
All in all, this letter does Ms Kleinpeter and Cox no credit. It reawakens the judgment that you can't trust anything the incumbents say. I had thought they had learned from previous mistakes. What Cox is offering here is what Cox offered the community during the initial months of the fiber fight: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. This is not merely a failed political tactic that will lose them points with our community. It is also lousy business practice. People have a hard enough time trusting their Cable company as it is. People don't want half the channels they are forced to buy just to get the few they actually watch. They really don't like that they almost never see the rated cable speed that was advertised for the tier they bought. Giving the public an objectively verifiable reason to believe that Cox will lie to you and that it will mislead you is not just dangerous politically; it is a really bad business practice. It's hard to think of a better way to ensure LUS' success.