Friday, August 24, 2007

Eatel Plays Telco Game

I've lauded EATel repeatedly, both for its locally-owned fiber to the home project and for its (lost, lamented) inexpensive phone service.

But fair is fair. EATel has apparently decided that its role as a rural incumbent phone company should allow it to act like the big boys. Like AT&T everywhere little EATel is balking at cutting the same "serve the whole community if you want to use our rights-of-way" deal with the village of Sorrento that any other cable company would have to cut. From the Advocate story:

Town Attorney Greg Lambert told the council at its meeting Tuesday that Cox Communications, currently the only provider in the area, asked that Eatel be held to the same agreement provisions as Cox.

Lambert said Eatel has agreed to all of the same provisions except the density requirement, which requires Cox to provide service to any house within 300 feet of a distribution system, and any area that has 50 residences within one cable mile or 10 residences within a quarter of a cable mile.

Sharon Kleinpeter, a vice president at Cox Communications, told the council that Eatel and Cox should operate under the same standards.

A broken clock is right twice a day and Kleinpeter and Cox are right about this. And I was wrong to think EATel too local and loyal to try and run such a scam — though I was right to think that the Sorrento Council would resist. [It should be noted that there is more than a whiff of hypocrisy about Cox's objections: Cox's late endorsement of the state-wide video franchise that BellSouth/AT&T proposed came about when they were included in the list of companies that could ignore a local community's demand of service for all citizens in return for the use of those citizen's property. Cox would have been wiser not to encourage the competion to cherry-pick then; they'd be more credible now.]

EATel already has to run its copper into every home and has been profiting off the people of Sorrento for generations...it is resisting upgrading a few people who have been loyal customers to marginally increase their overall profit in a new market.

Emulating AT&T is not the way to go for a progressive local firm whose greatest asset is the belief that it is more likely to care about the local community than outside monopolies. Stuff like this squanders their core advantage and is lousy business even if it weren't unethical.

For shame.

Let's hope the Sorrento Council holds firm and returns EATel to its better self.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is AT&T required to serve everyone in Lafayette Parish? If so why should LUS not be required to do the same thing? It is a shame people outside the corp.limits of the city are left out of the offerings when we have a consolidated govt. This is not a cosolidated govt in my mind!!

John said...

Effectively AT&T is required to serve everyone everywhere...phone service. But nothing else. Even though they own a network that goes everywhere (built while they were a federally sanctioned monopoly) they've fought tooth and nail to not upgrade all their current customers.

LUS promises to serve everyone everything they've got in throughout their whole service area.

You can't do any better than that.

Anonymous said...

Yea you are correct there John. The problem is their serving area is very concentrated and easy to justify the fiber to the home.

John said...

Anon,

Fair enough, though they are building an entirely new network, AND serving all their customers. I think EATel and AT&T ought to plunk down to at least upgrade their loyal customers.

But they clearly aren't going to take my advice and are going for short-term return.

On the other hand I'd guess that any outlying area that asked to be annexed into the city of Lafayette would get our FTTH bargin. Just ask....

;-)