Saturday, September 01, 2007

Municipalities Incompetent??

Back during the Fiber Fight the incumbents and local opponents of the Lafayette fiber to the home project tried to convince the people that (obviously) little ole LUS was just too incompetent to actually run a modern telecommunications network. We really just had to leave that to the smart people at Cox or BS (now AT&T) and be content in our backward, backwood status until they favored us with the sort of network the thought was appropriate to our station in life. They talked down to Lafayette's citizens using inane analogies that described the desire for a fiber network as being like wanting a big, powerful luxury car we didn't need and would have to park in a junky old garage too small for it.

That sort condescension tends to get people's backs up. They remember being treated like fools and dummies.

So it is impossible to pass on the opportunity to highlight just how competent the Lordly AT&T really is at building state-of-the-art telecommunications networks. From the ST. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Weeks after the first phase of the Wi-Fi network was originally set to come online, engineers from AT&T and the city still are wrestling with how to get power to the network of transmitters that would hang on light poles across St. Louis, said Michael Wise, director of information technology services for the city.

Most St. Louis streetlights are powered by bank switches — a single bank might control 90 of them — and there's no way to get electricity to transmitters on them without leaving the lights on all day.

"It's a problem," Wise said. "It's a major problem."

It's such a problem that it's forced AT&T to delay the network's downtown pilot project. It was originally set to launch in June or July. Now no one will set a date.

...engineers have spent months on the problem already, with no answer yet. AT&T wouldn't say how much a solution might cost, or how long they'll work before throwing in the towel.
Allow me to say it: Uh, that was really Dumb....You didn't bother to figure out how to power your network before committing to a 12 million dollar contract to build St. Louis a wifi network? How could such a thing happen? Surely there is a good explanation.

There is.

AT&T is a monopolist and can't keep itself from acting like one.

Instead of competing in a public bid process and winning the contract. And, oh yeah, doing all that hard work of actually planning the network. AT&T convinced the mayor and the city council to pass a special law saying that it didn't have to compete to win the business: they could just have the contract. After all who could be more competent than AT&T? The city could just trust that AT&T would do a good job, couldn't they?

No.

Here's my take on competence, LUS, and AT&T: I guess that NO public electrical utility that's getting into wifi would be so dumb as to not check on how it was going to power the network before making the commitment. That kind of stupidity is reserved for the oh-so-smarter-than-thou big telecom companies.

Sometimes life treats you to a little bit of (just) desert(s).

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