Tuesday, August 29, 2006

WiFi BS Resurfaces

This morning's Advertiser carries another letter by Chuck Pickett dissing the the fiber optic plan. Ole Chuck has a series of letters to the editor on this going all the way back to '04. He's always opposed to the community's plan but used a different set of reasons each time.

There is a common pattern: the fella takes a "naive" misunderstanding and uses it to attack the Fiber plan. My guess is that he is smarter than he lets on. In January of '05, for instance, he inferred that the city would be better served to "do a bond issue" for cop cars, etc. Of course what's silly about that is that the Fiber bond issue would generate revenue to pay off the communty's debt. Just issuing random bonds would not. Then in September of '04 he wanted us to believe that we were just too poor to afford a fiber network that would provide competition and lower costs while paying for itself. Who's too poor for that?

This time he wants us to believe that his vacation demonstrated that the hiking trails in Colorado are filled with WiFi and that WiFi somehow makes Fiber obsolete. Nah, nobody is that naive, are they?

I took a vacation too (4 days!) in North Carolina and had free WiFi whenever I wanted it also. --In my hotel room and in coffee shops. I bet that little detail is what he's "naively" neglecting to mention this time. He paid for WiFi in his room bill and with that cuppa coffee. I'm pretty sure folks visiting in Lafayette experience exactly the same pleasant convience if they stay at places like La Quinta and take their caffine at CC's or Mello Joy. The only muni wifi setup in all of Colorado are a few hotsposts in the parks and the community centers/library of the tiny "village" of Glenwood Springs according to CNet -- and so Pickett didn't experience anything like the ubiquitous "free" connectivity he is suggesting for Lafayette during his vacation and his vacation did not likely inspire his letter. Misleading? I'd say so.

His bit about Fiber being made obsolete by WiFi is suspiciously naive as well. Nobody that is in the least knowledgeable really believes that; not even the most ardent proponents of WiFi or WiMax. Wireless technologies and wired ones are complimentary and the wisest plans combine a fiber backbone and FTTH/B connectivity for rock-solid and nearly boundless bandwidth to the places where people use most of their bandwidth and a much lower speed wireless for mobility. But having anything like even DSL speeds reliably available on wireless provided to all (as Pickett's "free" wifi presumes) will require a dense fiber backbone. The opposition between the two is simply false--and the truth is that a workable high-speed wireless requires a huge previous investment in a dense fiber network.

Lafayette could have a dream network with high-bandwidth fiber to the home and office and higher speed ubiquitous wireless than is available anywhere in the country. That could all be very cheap. We could, if we wanted, make the WiFi a no-extra-cost service to subscribers of LUS broadband services. But it wouldn't be really free since people would pay for it in their broadband bills.


And my guess is that this guy understands all that.

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