Monday, October 30, 2006

Decker (?!) Opts For Government Fiber

Bill Decker watched the Moyers "Net@Risk" show recently and came away from it convinced of the necessity of fiber--so convinced that he is now willing to endorse the government doing that providing if that is what is necessary.

That Lafayette has to build a fiber system for itself, since the incumbents refused to do so, has been the bedrock position of the pro-fiber majority in Lafayette for a couple of years. It's nice that the man from the show-me state has been shown.

Welcome aboard Bill!

It is an index of how public opinion has solidified in Lafayette that Bill Decker is now firmly settled on the side of light. Seasoned veterans of Lafayette's fiber fight will recall the day when Bill's position on government-provided fiber was a dismissive reference to “What’s next? A five-year plan? A hall of socialist labor heroes?”

Decker does throw a bone to the corporate incumbents; he allows that they might be justified in their disinclination to build out fiber networks by the "fiber-optic bubble"--a period of time at the beginning of this decade in which fiber was overbuilt and the value of long-haul networks crashed. 'Tis true, that did happen. But it is an open question as to whether the teleco's hesitation to build the promised "last mile" fiber to homes wasn't more a cause than a consequence of that crash. Bill Moyers show explores the promises the telecos made so Decker has seen much of this complaint. Part of what happened back then was that new technologies (in particular DWDM) appeared that increased the practical capacity of a single strand of fiber from 10 Gbits to 1 Tbits. But another thing that happened was that the builders of the new long-haul pipes were counting on increased usage by people in homes and small businesses--places that they anticipated would be served by fiber the telecos had loudly promised. When the phone companies didn't come through neither did the increased usage. The phone companies were, at least in some part, the cause rather than the victims of the fiber-optic bubble.

At any rate it is good to see the community still united on the basic question of a municipal fiber network. The only question now is how to get it.

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