Monday, April 23, 2007

It's working in Bristol (TN & VA)

The fiber to the home projects in Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia are going great guns according to an article in the newspaper there. The Virginia project got going first and helped its sister city just across the border get started (it has extended its service regionally as well). The good news is that both projects, in a struggling area of Appalachia are signing up more customers than they had planned for and are are considerably ahead of their original business plan. About Tennessee:
Bristol Tennessee Essential Services has added far more customers in its first 18 months than projected, said Chief Executive Officer Mike Browder...

“Our cable and Internet is still growing,” Browder said. “At the end of March, we surpassed the two-year projection of our business plan.”
About Virginia:
“We’ve blown away our original business plan,” she said. “Our original projections were 35 percent of the market – as an over-builder – was good and 45 percent was outstanding. We’re at 65 percent.”
The projects, and their cities, are getting great publicity. Finally. They deserve it. Bristol has been used and abused by the incumbents across the nation. A group of corporate officers and a few well-funded "think tanks" have portrayed the project as an abysmal failure that revealed the incompetence of municipal utilities in general and Bristol's officials in particular. Since "everyone knows" that government is inefficient and can't compete too many accepted their claims at face value. It turns out that it was all a crock-a crock that was designed to serve as a PR tool for the incumbent corporations. BellSouth and Cox certianly trotted out those falsehoods here in Louisiana.

Folks who followed the intricacies of The Fight for Fiber in Lafayette will recall Bristol, Va--again and again the supposed failures of Bristol's fiber to the home project were used to imply that LUS' project would fail. (You know, Appalachians, Southerners, Cajuns & Creoles...) Trouble was, Bristol's project was doing, and is doing, great. It was all strategic lies and misinformation.

A partial list of the falsehoods spread about Bristol by anti-fiber partisans in Lafyette:
  • 8/04: Right out of the gate at the so-called "Academic" Broadband Forum Bristol was held up to ridicule and "supporting" documents distributed to the press and the crowd that mislead the people of Lafayette about the true story of Bristol's network. Mike, in one of the earliest entries on this site, methodically pulled the incumbnet argument apart--and presciently argued that showing disrespect for the citizens of Lafayette by peddling such stuff would boomerang on Cox and BellSouth.
  • 10/04: A Cox mailer to Lafayette's "Important Leaders" contained the same sorts of misleading assertions concerning Bristol as the general public was treated to two months earlier.
  • 7/05: Stephen Titch, a writer of paid advertorials, published in the Advertiser an essay that compared the Bristol and LUS projects--unfavorably for both. An earlier version of the report the essay was based on had been submitted to the State Bond Commission. That document was funded by the incumbents and was originally designed to support their position that LUS should not be able to issue its bonds. (The commission found otherwise.)
  • 7/05: At the CODA debate between Fenstemaker (pro fiber) and Breakfield (anti) Breakfield repeats false or misleading claims about Bristol and other public utilities, claiming disastrous losses. Don Bertrand and Fenstemaker point out that any capital intensive business won't make money while it is in the investment phase--even if it is meeting or exceeding its business plan.
  • 7/05: On the eve of the election Fiber 411 distributes a mass mailer prominently featuring a dishonestly manipulated quote from Bristol's hometown newspaper—a qoute that inverts the real meaning of the paragraph from which it was drawn in a transparent attempt to make the people of Lafayette think the project had failed when, in fact, it was beating its business plan.
  • 4/06: Even after their referendum loss Cox continued to push tall tales about Bristol. A letter to the editor over the signature of Sharon Kleinpeter tied increases in Brisol's utility rates to that city's fiber project. However, the local paper there had documented that their increases had nothing to do with the fiber project.
Bristol has earned its day in the sun.

1 comment:

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