Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"Groups join Lafayette’s fight for fiber-optic plan"

There's a good article in today's Advocate that lays out, quite neatly, the history of the fiber fight in Lafayette. Blanchard, the Advocate's reporter on the story, provides the history as the backdrop to his discussion of the Fiber To the Home Council's (FTTH Council) friend of the court brief in support of LUS and the city of Lafayette.

Blanchard's analysis of the FTTH Council brief focuses on the loan structure of the Lafayette project. He notes that the so-called Fair Competition Act was supposed to provide a "level playing field but actually forced LUS to pay market-rate for loans from within the company that its private competitors would not have to pay for. But that (un)fair requirement is precisely what is under attack by the Naquin lawyers who want it eliminated in spite of plain language in the law that anticipated loans offered at fair market rate.

It is a twisty logic that the incumbents and their agents are arguing and it is astonishing that the 3rd circuit bought it.

We'll see the Naquin lawyers response on the 21st and oral arguments will be the 28th.

By the by, The article closes by expressing some doubt about the project:
During the delay caused by the lawsuit, interest rates have risen, but the cost of the technology has also fallen, giving officials hope that — with a favorable ruling — the communications project will still be financially feasible.
In truth, interest rates are still not above the level projected in the feasibility study. True, we'll be paying a lot more in interest than we would had the incumbents simply accepted the will of the people. There was a window of very low interest rates of which we should have been able to take advantage. But the current rates are no more than were originally anticipated. The silver lining is the rapidly falling cost of the sort of fiber-optic equipment that LUS is anticipating installing--due mostly to Verizion's large FTTH build in the US and to rapid FTTH deployment worldwide. As Laignaippe when our purchase is finally made we'll almost certainly get a higher base speed than the 100 megs we talked about during and immediately after the campaign—LUS will surely install the sort of equipment scheduled for the first upgrade several years out.

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