Friday, August 15, 2008

Zydetech & LUSFiber

I attended Zydetech's rebirth at LITE yesterday evening and healthy rebirth it was. The snacks and conversation were good, the attendance great, and the presentations better. Congratulations go out to David Goodwyn, the driving force; Keith Thibodeaux, CIO of LCG; and Erin Fitzgerald of LITE, all of whom I happen to know worked hard to make it happen and happen right. Similar high fives to those who labored beyond my view. Zydetech was long the premier association of techheads and tech businesses in Acadiana and active in promoting both tech and the region.

Zydetech was at the heart of much Lafayette's tech explosion back in the day, as demonstrated by a huge chart locating the "tipping points" in Lafayette's development as a tech center that stretched across the LITE main theatre screen. Its return augurs well.

The Advertiser has an article on the event — and you should click through to get their overview — but my take here is going to focus, as you might suspect, on what was revealed about our fiber network. (Incidentally, even if you have read the printed version, click through to the online one. The printed version cuts off abruptly after Louis Perret's presentation. The online version has an overview of the others as well. Maybe the Advertiser figured that stuff would only matter to the geeky sorts and that they'd get it online anyway.)

Among the gathered tech types, the LUS presentation was clearly the hit of the evening. After the applause died down following Mona Simon's presentation, Logan McDaniel, who represented the school system, got up and, tongue planted firmly in cheek, thanked the organizers for putting him after LUS . . . which got him a nice bit of laughter to launch his bit.

LUS presentations are all of a type, whether the presenter is at a civic organization or at technical gathering: a charge through the major characteristics of the network with a staccatto list of highlights for each. The term "bullet points" was invented for these guys. But it goes so quickly that it does make it hard to keep good notes.

Some highlights. (Using bullet points, of course.)

What's Done:
  • The public schools are connected with a 1 gbps backbone and each school is connected with a 100 mbps connection. (McDaniel made it clear that the system was very happy with that, describing it as "rock solid.")
  • 250 of the 800 miles of fiber that will be built are completed.
  • The head end is completed and the electronics are being tested.
  • The huts housing field electronics are being built.

  • The launch schedule is holding. Still looking for a launch in the first section of January, 2009 and completion of the city by 2011.
What's Coming:
  • 20% less. LUS is still saying that they will launch their triple play at 20% less than their competitors. They were originally only promising to charge less than the incumbents were charging at the time they announced the plan, but that's kept shifting to a current time frame. Caveat: LUS' price will be the "real" price – no 6 month specials – and their competitors' real price is the one they promise to beat.
  • Lots o' channels on video.
  • DVR--Digital Video Recorder, like TiVo.
  • VOD--Video on Demand, download TV through the TV interface.
  • VOIP--Voice over Internet Protocol, aka phone, aka nifty integration.
  • 10 mbps symmetrical will be the lowest, cheapest internet tier you can buy.
  • The cable service will be IP-based and Mona was direct in saying that they were going to make use of that to intro new features and integration.
  • The Peer to Peer intranet will run at 100 mbps. No matter how little you spend on internet connectivity with LUS, you will be able to communicate at 100 mbps with every other citizen in the city that has purchased the service. This has emerged as the signature feature of the new public network and Mona actually paused for a few seconds to emphasize they expected folks to do really interesting things with all that capacity. By which, I think she meant that she expected the people in the room to do really interesting things and write the apps to let anyone else do so as well. (CampFiber anyone?) This is the part of the presentation where the crowd murmur really got loud.
  • The video service Digital Set Top Box will be used for Digital Divide purposes. After a bit of a hesitation she said that she'd say that. I gather that there is still some question about that or about just how it will work. (I've fretted about this pretty often. It's not the perfect alternative that it should be just now, but the upside is that it would get a NAD-Network Attached Device into every house that bought cable.)
  • Simultaneous wireless deployment is ongoing. LUS is wiring up and lighting up a wireless system as they deploy the fiber. Right now it is only open to their employees but the intent is to open it as a retail product — a free or very cheap feature of internet service. (Done that way, they wouldn't have to worry about pushing signal to the interior of houses or businesses; if you have fiber service you'll have plenty of in-home bandwidth. So they can just concentrate on getting high bandwidth rates going. TRULY ubiquitous, TRULY high-speed connectivity throughout the city would be available. (3G? Paugh. I spit on your 3G. ;-))
  • Connections to LONI and the Lambda Rail are in place.
  • Energy: this has been a low key but constant emphasis of LUS – which is, after all, an energy company. But the recent energy crisis has made this topic newly salient to the public. Being considered are: demand-side appliance management (lower peak demand costs, saving capital costs and fuel costs), time of use metering (get lower costs if you use off-peak electricity). Mona also pointed out that teleconferencing will be dead simple over the LUS intranet and that has the potential to save transit time and money. (And maybe even help unclog Johnson Street? Nah, technology can only do so much.)
During the question and answer period most of the questions went to LUS. While several were about just how soon the questioner could get hooked up, the most consequential one was on the uber-geeky topic of static IP addresses: Would customers get static IP addresses? As I understood from across the room: Business accounts would. If I heard right, that's a disappointment. The concern is with some users abusing their bandwidth. IMHO that's not the best solution. Cap uploads if you must, but with IPV6 there is no technical reason not to give every household a unique address and a whole host of applications and communication tools that I could imagine would be facilitated by static IPs. (If you're whacky enough to think so too, I urge you to contact LUS. They've already heard from me on this one.)

It's a fun and exciting list. And very few people have any sense of what we are about to get. LUS needs to get that information out there and create a sense of excitement.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

How much does it cost to run the LITE Center? I notice a lot of new positions in the last few months. I am wondering how much does it cost to run and how much do they take in?

Anonymous said...

Wait minute, I just read the part that says "No matter how little you spend on internet connectivity with LUS, you will be able to communicate at 100 mbps with every other citizen in the city that has purchased the service." You guys said everyone would have 100 mbps. But now its only with people in lafayette who have LUS? You may think thats a cute spin, but that's not what you lead us to believe. shame on you

John said...

Anono,

NOBODY ever said anything different. This is something I pushed hard far as far back as _before_ the referendum. I've always been very clear. So has LUS. I've watched the Advocate and Advertiser stories closely for just your misconception and they've been straightforward as well.

Some history: the idea was first put before the community in the digtial divide document which I helped author back in May of 05.http://lafayetteprofiber.com/imagesNRef/Docs/DDFinalPlus.htm The idea is plainly about in-system bandwidth.

As far as I recall the first time LUS mentioned the idea publicly was at the fiber forum at city hall in March of 07. See: http://lafayetteprofiber.com/Blog/2007/03/first-fiber-forum.html

In recent months that has become a bragging point, but it has always been about in-system connections (aka peer-to-peer, aka intranet)

Since the absolute beginning folks have said that LUS would have price and speed tiers just like their competition.

Take a look at any newspaper article, Nothing could have been clearer.