Thursday, March 01, 2007

St. Charles: Disgusted with Cox; Join Lafayette?

St. Charles Parish, according to a recent article in NOLA, has gotten pretty disgusted with Cox and has voted to actively seek another franchisee and sets itself up as a committee of the whole to look into Cox's franchise contract--a contract which ends in December. Both votes were unanimous.

Ooo ouch.

To add to the pain at least two members are already advocating municipal ownership according to the St. Charles Herald-Guide:

Duhe and Ramchandran said the parish should consider building its own cable network as Lafayette Parish has done.

“We have met with the city president of Lafayette Parish and they are using a fiberoptic system that combines digital cable service, the internet and telephone service, and we were really impressed with the system they are using,” Duhe says.

“When we return from Washington, D.C. we plan on meeting with the Lafayette Parish Council again to get more information on their cable system.”

Duhe says residents are seeking other options besides cable service to watch television.

The best alternative to cable is raw broadband. Wanna watch ABC news or shows?. Cut out the middleman and go directly to the source. The catch is that you need real broadband--and Cox, its protestations aside doesn't reliably provide it. For example: despite the "up to" 5 megs of download that my contract with Cox describes, ABC just refused to give me a full screen rendition of "Lost" when I surfed over there for URLs for this story, claiming that I need 864 k to see it at full size. If you want to get off the cable wagon go broadband. Cox will be reluctant to sell you really adequate broadband to make that transition as long as cable revenues are their cash cow. If you want to ensure the availability of that option you'll have to do for yourself.

I hope St. Charles seriously considers dumping Cox in favor of providing their own, real, broadband. Lafayette might even be in a position to lend a helping hand. US 90 and the railroad, the combo that splits Lafayette snakes over to St. Charles and divides that parish on its way to New Orleans. There's significant dark fiber along that path should someone want to lease Lafayette's back-end services or partner on a bandwidth buy.

The complaints about Cox's service that are fueling St. Charles' anger sound similar to those voiced in Lafayette: a recent 9% price jump coupled with taking locally popular channels and the program guide off the basic, analog, tier. The weather channel, a bone of contention in Lafayette, is still on basic cable in the New Orleans area.



(St. Charles, for those of us across the basin whose geography might be a little shaky, is usually considered part of Metro New Orleans. It spans the Mississippi just north of Jefferson Parish.)

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