Councilman Chris Williams holds a monthly "Real Talk" meeting at the center on Cora that features local issues and worthies and the worthy last night was Huval and the topic: "Update on the Fiber to the Home and Utility Issues." Much of it we've heard before but to get it all in one place and directly from the horse's mouth was a treat that revealed how the head of the system is thinking about the project. But there was some pretty significant "new" news and a set of equally significant reaffirmations.
- Parallel deployment of a WiFi network. Previously I'd understood a "soon-after" deployment schedule. This will no doubt still depend on the initial testing working out well but this is now the plan. And it is MOST welcome news. Once it spreads into the national media we'll get a lot of interested and envious comment. (I think this is the smart way to deploy wireless.)
- LUS will roll out fiber more quickly than originally planned: the schedule we've heard involved an 18 month wait from the bond sale to serving the first customer, that is, somewhere around the first of the year in 2009. (Someone is gonna get a nice Christmas present.) It was to take three years to complete the buildout city-wide. Huval is now saying that advances in deployment technology will allow him to cut that time by a third to two years making Lafayette a fully-fibered city by the dawn of 2011...
- "Our slowest speed will be faster than their fastest speed;" and you will get what you pay for. The internet portion of the services LUS will offer will be faster than the incumbents' current fastest speed which, when I checked the web, is Cox's 12 meg "Premier" speed. That's a bit of a surprise even to me--I'd previously heard that the lowest internet tier would be 10 megs and was plenty impressed by that. Huval also emphasized that LUS would make sure that you get the advertised speed. If LUS sells you 10 megs you'll get 10 megs if you check a speedtest like the one at the Communications Workers of America site. —I just checked and I got about 3 megs download and 555 k upload on Cox's 7 meg package using the CWA speedtest (@9:30 AM). I'd be interested in hearing your mileage in the comments. That is pretty respectable vis-a-vis the nation but it isn't half of my package speed.
- 50-70 channels on the basic cable package. Contrast with 22 for Cox. This may not be new but I don't seem to recall it from before.
- Intranet speeds, aka peer to peer speed, aka full insystem bandwidth, aka cool. Too new to have a settled name this is the greatest, least understood feature of the new network. It embodies Internet equity: Every Lafayette internet subscriber will, regardless of how much they pay for their connection, be able to communicate with anyone else on the network at the full speed available at that moment. Citizen-subscribers are equals on the Lafayette network. This policy underlines the difference between a community-owned resource and a for-profit company. With it Lafayette becomes the ultimate testbed for new big-bandwidth services like video telephony and sophisticated conferencing setups that require large numbers of diverse users with ultra-highspeed, symmetrical bandwidth for a honest field test. This will allow our citizens's tastes to help shape the future of the net. And it will shape our own future as a democratic community as we move forward together into an age where digitial communications shape our interactions.
- Retail WiFi. We will get a chance to add city-wide WiFi to our LUS telecom package. Can you say "Quadruple Play?" I've long hoped for this. Yay! Now what we need is a contract with a major cellphone carrier that will let us use WiFi phones in-city and their cell network outside.
- No hookup fees; no contracts. Go with LUS and you'll never feel "trapped" in your contract because there will be no contract. The no hookup fee is a significant concession considering that Huval mentioned that he thought the cost would be 6-700 dollars per home to pull service from the street.
- 20% savings on the triple play. That's still in place; I'd worried that in the years of incumbent-caused delay a lot has changed and that keeping that committment might be harder—but the promise is still in place.
- Symmetric Bandwidth. You buy a 12 meg package and you'll get 12 megs of upload and download. Contrast that with my current Cox package: 7 megs down and 512 k up. Thats about a 14:1 ratio. LUS will charge me less, give me more speed down and much, much more speed up. I'm in. (I wonder if now is the time to start lobbying for static IP addresses?)