Tuesday, July 24, 2007

WBS: "Eyes on Lafayette Fiber"

What's Being Said Department

From Broadband Reports comes an interesting piece of speculation: that Lafayette's fiber may become more of a bellwether for the advocates of municipal networks now that the bloom is off the rose of muni wi-fi:
Lafayette, as you might recall, had to fight incumbent broadband providers Cox and BellSouth tooth and nail in order to deploy the project. On the heels of the very sudden press realization that citywide Wi-Fi isn't magic pixie dust, we'll expect that municipal FTTH will see greater attention, with Lafayette's $110 million dollar project a major litmus test.
Here's an even more speculative thought: that LUS will be in a position to salvage what can be salvaged of the muni wi-fi movement by deploying a wireless system that actually works as advertised. As we've tirelessly repeated here the root of the difficulty with most WAN (Wide Area Network) wifi systems, muni or not, is that they are undersupplied with bandwidth and very "gappy." Both issues arise not from technology but from economics: suppliers are motivated to minimize costs and the number of connections to a full-strength backbone is a direct determinant of cost—and available bandwidth. LUS, because it owns a full-throttle fiber backbone, will much less motivation to minimize the number of those connections. Doing it right is an upfront cost, not a continuing expense.

Users will find Lafayette's fiber network 10 to 100 times faster than what they've been experiencing. There's no reason why the wifi network shouldn't be that much more powerful than the typical WAN.

All eyes on Lafayette.

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