Saturday, September 01, 2007

Construction News

The Advertiser posts a story on various aspect of the FTTH construction that leads with high bids that came in for the headend building near I-10 at I-49:
Bids to construct the building that will house equipment at the heart of the fiber-to-the-home project came in $1.5 million more than budgeted.

"They came out very high: $2.9 million on a $1.4 million budget," Lafayette Utilities System Director Terry Huval said.

That's better than twice what was expected and while this is a relatively small part of the project that much difference is troubling--as is the unspoken implication of the story that LUS might settle for a building that was less able to withstand hurricane category force 3 winds than the original design called for. The headend is the heart of the system and we want a secure building with enough room to accommodate additional communities that might want to buy services from LUS. (LUS has made a great business out of providing water and electricity to less well-appointed regional providers and in the process held down the cost to Lafayette ratepayers. There's no reason to think they couldn't do the same for telecommunications.)

Other parts of the story talk about the RFP that is currently out for fiber hardware and is due in on September 17th. That RFP defines what LUS is asking for and the response will give the community a good idea of the cost of various, relatively narrowly constrained, network architectures. The selection of a winning bid there will define the system's capacities.

In the category of news about the lack of news:

Still undecided is which neighborhoods will be the first to receive fiber. LUS is working on the methodology to fairly make that decision.

That's been the story for years now.....;-)

In the category of "its nice that someone has noticed:"

Meanwhile, he told the City-Parish Council this week that wireless or wi-fi will be part of the fiber initiative as time goes on but not in the initial stages.

"We do plan to let wireless become part of our overall network when we do fiber," Huval said. "We won't be providing retail access to Wi-Fi until we provide fiber services."

LUS has set up 14 locations with wireless capabilities for internal use. The company plans on expanding with about 40 more wireless locations for use by LUS and other city-parish government agencies, such as the police department.

It's nice that the media has finally noticed that LUS is going to do wi-fi...TheINd blog covered Terry's "anouncement" earlier this week and probably that report prompted the Advertiser comment. (It's not new, just under-reported.) It sounds as if LUS is planning on rolling out wifi in parallel with the fiber and only offering wifi access when it starts selling network services in an area. We'll see—an actual, full announcement on the wifi portion would be most welcome.


Anonymous said...

maybe the real story is that lus doesn't really know how much "fiber to the home" will cost?

John said...


Nope, That's not it. Many of the major items have list prices more or less--one exception is one-off buildings. Still this is a big difference. What I wish for is a reporter who would follow up this with a useful question--"What difference in assumptions lead to this?" instead of a paper that grasps at a high bid as an opportunity to sensationally trumpet a "crashed budget." If you read into the story its pretty obvious that LUS doesn't intend to accept this bid as it stands. They're looking to bring it more nearly in line by changing the bid specs.

A more accurate headline might have been: LUS struggles to contain costs. That's not a headline LUS would have enjoyed either. But it would have been accurate.