Sunday, April 01, 2007

FLASH! LUS Announces Plans

(Please note: this was first published on April 1st)

LUS has revealed its Fiber to the Home plans!! Daylight savings glitch apparently causes early release of press release.

After a press release dated tomorrow, Monday, 4/2, showed up in PR inboxes across the city calls to LUS and George Graham (from whose office the missive was mailed) confirm its authenticity. The surprise release gives an amazing amount of detail (7 loosely organized pages) about topics the local utility has always deemed "proprietary information."

Said Huval:
Yes, It's real...We just decided that since it has become extremely clear that FOI [Freedom of Information] requests that revealed these details were forthcoming we thought, what the heck; just release them. Besides most of this stuff is either obvious or nothing Cox or the phone company can do anything about anyway. Why not let the community know?
Huval declined to elaborate on what was meant by "extremely clear."

Major points in the release:
  • The initial FTTH network will be gigabit (not 100 megs as previously discussed in the media.)
  • An 802.11n (N!) wireless network will be built alongside the fiber build. Service will be available as an independent purchase but "will be cheaper in the bundle." "This," the release says enigmatically, "will be the Digital Divide offering." (Side note: deploying "N" implies that Tropos will be upgrading their equipment. Presumably LUS knows something we don't.)
  • Probably associated with the wireless issue: "The CPE [Customer Premise Equipment] will equipped with a wireless node that can act as a repeater." (I'm not sure I fully understand that but I think I like it.)
  • Confirmation of the widely reported Symmetric Bandwidth feature is given; uploads will as speedy as downloads, making webmasters ecstatic.
  • "Full Intranet Speeds" will be featured. —What Huval calls "peer to peer" speeds. Every customer, regardless of how much they are paying will be able to communicate at the full available speed of Lafayette's network with any other customer who also has service—usually a large fraction of the gigabit limit. This is also called a "Digital Divide Feature." (Now you have a reason to buy a new router to replace the 10/100 switch you bought in 2000!)
  • A kitchen sink philosophy prevails: the network will offer POTS (analog phone) and VOIP; Analog and digital cable over dedicated "colors" as well as a full range of IP-based video products. (Legacy services are said to be " translated in the CPE?") Three local companies plan to offer "video-enhanced" security products. Related?: "a high-level API for service interoperability will available to entrepreneurs." (Again, I think I like that.)
  • And NO, they're still not saying where the build will start. Says Huval: "That really is proprietary. Let 'em guess or sue."
Extracted from the depths of the seven page, disjointed, pdf:
Video Product News:
  • LUS will purchase membership in both the the traditional small cable video purchasing coop and a similar, emerging, rural telco-oriented coop "insuring a unique range of products." (As both a phone CLEC and a small, local cable company they apparently meet the membership requirements of both.)
  • An initial offering of nearly 500 cable channels plus "a similar number of IP 'channel products'" accessible either through the bandwidth product or the cable product menu. (That latter is very interesting and not something I had anticipated.)
  • A discussion with TiVo is in the works for "field trials of a versatile" TiVo-based set top box with "embedded" desktop, browser, and email functions. (Since TiVo is basically a Linux computer, why not go all the way and just let folks use it? That would kill the digital divide computer issue right there.)
Phone News:
  • Video phones will be available from LUS, at no extra charge, when a VOIP plan is purchased due to a "special partnership" with Motorola. (?) It will not work with POTS plans. If your caller does not have video capacity you will be able to use it as a standard phone. (Let's presume that you can turn off the camera. It's a cool idea but I bet my wife isn't the only one to object.)
  • Wifi interoperability is planned. (No mention of cellular interoperability...though that was discussed briefly at the Fiber Forum.)
  • If you take both phone and internet packages you'll be able to download your voicemail as MP3s and have your email read to you on the phone. "Up to the limits of your tier's personal space allotment." What personal space allotment? That is the only place having some online storage a la Google is mentioned. ARRGGH! (The email <--> internet feature makes better sense if the internet component comes with email addresses and the concomitant web space and net interface--as does Cox and BellSouth's product.)
Internet News:
  • What? You want more news than Gig intranet bandwidth and upload-download symmetry. Greedy you! OK....
  • LUS is planning on implementing IPv6. Mike tells me to be impressed. Consequently, I am.
  • The "Franchise Agreement" (Had forgotten about that? Me too.) will include support for AOC "similar to the current agreement with Cox" and "broadband capacity to support streaming IPTV and VOD [video on demand] functionality within the intranet" as well. (This sounds technical but will sustain AOC's community functions as the cable model starts to atrophy.)
Miscellany:
  • Interoperability: A lot of emphasis throughout the doc is placed on interoperability. The API issue cited near the beginning of this post is part of that as are features pointed out that flash incoming phone calls on the TV, Caller ID, remote login to video recording features, etc.
  • The part on the "Franchise Agreement" mentions support for "Digital Inclusion" (Digital Inclusion is the new "less divisive" phrase for Digital Divide issues. Feel free to roll your eyes.) However, I can't decipher who will charged with doing this range of tasks.
All very, very interesting -- as with any real information it raises more questions than it answers. Stay tuned.....I'm sure this will be even more interesting tomorrow.

Links:
To the PDF press release.
KLFY
Advertiser short

2 comments:

Ben Dorsey said...

While a joke- I hope it is somewhat close to reality. ;-)

~Ben D.

John said...

Ben,

I hope so too..:-)