Tuesday, January 09, 2007

LamdaRail Deal in New Mexico...& Lafayette?

The national LamdaRail has cut a deal with the community broadband provider in Sandoval County, New Mexico according to a report in the local paper. The deal, according to an earlier article in the paper, will cut backhaul prices by more than half. Dwayne Hendricks, the geek behind the deal explains:
Access to the rail also could drive down the price of Internet connections, Hendricks said.
Through "peering," a trading system among networks that allows companies to use each other's network at little cost, the price of bandwidth goes down, he said.
Before the county's network was in place, the average cost of a megabit, the standard unit of exchange between network service providers and Internet service providers, was $125 a month, Hendricks said.
The current price for the county's network is $50 per megabit a month, and Hendricks said he expects the price to lower to $20 a month by the first quarter of 2007.
"It's all about horse-trading," Hendricks said.
Dwayne's project is substantially different from Lafayette's--it hopes to cover a large, mostly rural, county with WiFi-based broadband dropped off a fiber optic based supply line--a situation that seems ideal for wireless. Where the two projects are similar is that they both seek to supply their citizens with the cheapest broadband possible. The part of that equation that is hard for the local provider to control is peering--getting from the local network to the vast internet backbone.

That interconnectivity is controlled by a small number of providers and Lafayette is exceedingly lucky that a majority of them have a point of presence in Lafayette. There will be competition for Lafayette's backhaul dollar.

But the deal involving the LambdaRail and Sandoval County opens up new possibilities for driving down the largest uncontrolled cost in any community broadband project. The setup in New Mexico involves the local University in Albuquerque (actually located in the next county to the south) as the connection point--and perhaps as the contractual provider, the stories are unclear on this point. Lafayette, of course, also has a local University that could serve as a clearing house.

Sandoval County's tying into the national LamdaRail offers new possibilities for holding down costs in Lafayette. Our leaders would do well to look into the possibilities that are opened up.

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