Wednesday, January 07, 2009

LUS Announces Pricing at the Council Meeting

Terry Huval made another appearance during the "President's Address" portion of last night's council meeting. In this one he provided more details on pricing and installation....

My trusty TiVo picked up the broadcast; it will be rebroadcast by AOC on Channel 16 Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1:00 p.m. It is also available anytime on the newly established ustream channel "lcg-council-auditorium."

If your interested in the details (and who isn't?) I recommend you take a look at Huval's presentation. It's well-organized and packs a lot of information into a small time frame. You can also check out the press release at the LUS Fiber site and pages there on video, phone and internet pricing.

Some highlights & notes of interest:
  1. There will be "no deposit, no contracts, and no charge for a standard installation."
  2. There will be some very low prices for some cable services—lower than had been previously anounced. The basic, no-box "analog," tier will only cost $17:00 and includes "20 channels including local channels and The Weather Channel." (Interestingly the "analog" channels on the local system are analog largely in the sense that they don't require a set top box: the system itself is all IP. Customers who don't want a box and have an analog TV will have their digital signals transformed into coaxial-happy analog at the fancy box on the exterior wall.)
  3. That low price, and other low prices for local phone service and internet will be mitigated by a minimum required purchase of $44 dollars. No customer will be signed up unless they initially agree to purchase $44 dollars worth of service. That's a marketing mistake, I believe. You want everyone to sign up, even if they are low-return initally. Of course, without a contract I don't know what is to prevent a frugal customer from signing up, paying for one month and dropping any extra services. Frankly, I don't see the point of this requirement. Without a contract it won't prevent folks from doing the obvious; will give the naysayers something pretty concrete to complain about; and will be used to by the opposition to undercut the city's otherwise legitimate claim to be lowering prices and offering poor and working people a break. (This isn't conjecture on my part—that was the response of the incumbents to a similar condition to join Bristol VA's municipal system.) [Yes, sure, I do understand the rationale: that fancy box on the side of the house that translates light into analog and digital cable over coax, internet over cat6, and emulates a Plain Old Telephone system is very costly...and LUS reasonably wants to recover that cost in some reasonable period. Still; IMHO, dangling unattainable low prices in front of the public is a mistake that only accountants and engineers would make. It's logical and sensible but mistaken. Where are the political, PR, and marketing folks? LUS needs a citizen's advisory council.]
  4. The internet service will include email, 70 megs of personal web space, Instant Messaging, personal calendaring and file sharing....pretty nifty. Making those service available universally will potentially open up a huge range of network effects akin to having universal phone service. All these are more valuable if all have them.
  5. It looks like only HD digital boxes will be deployed, some with and some without DVR capacity but all with HD. Planning for the future, I presume.
  6. There will be "an interactive TV Web Portal, Video On Demand, Pay-Per-View and Digital Video Recording." I'm still interested in that TV Web Portal.
Still missing: a channel lineup, details on the premium channel packages and any wireless hints.


PS: The Advertiser has a short piece up this evening. Expect a fuller story tomorrow and one from the Advocate as well.

10 comments:

Raymond Camden said...

I've got to say I'm a bit disappointed in the phone service. Specifically the extras. Out of all the extras they list, and there are quire a few, I will use only one of them, caller ID, and of course, that is in the higher package. So to get caller ID, I'll need to get 10 other services I'll never use. Ever. I believe (stress, believe) Cox lets me get caller id by itself, although it too isn't that cheap (I think around 7 pe month), still though, I'm looking at 13 dollars for one feature. Maybe it's time to just switch to cell completely. :)

Nick Istre said...

I, too, am a bit disappointed with the $44/mo minimum from a marketing/PR standpoint, even if it doesn't affect me directly; I'll be getting the just top internet tier. Then again, the biggest complaint against LUSFiber seem to be that it'll cost the city too much and to "expect costs for other services to increase to offset this". On the other hand, I'm sure many of the same people saying this will be complaining about this minimum; complainers are good at complaining...

On Monday, some work crews came by to the telephone pole at my house (I gladly gave them permission to park in the driveway) to install the fiber equipment to hookup the houses around here. Looks like they were working all day down my street, and you can see the equipment on every 2-3 poles. I'll have a picture up on my blog shortly.

monkeyboy said...

Anyone know what the monthly bandwidth caps is on the different Tiers? Cox has bandwidth caps, but I dont think they ever enforce them. I use the internet for everything now, TV (Netflix Streaming on Xbox 360, Hulu, Downloads), Phone (Vonage, Skype), and Music (Amazon, etc).

Last month I used over 100GB according to my bandwidth logs on my router.

John said...

Raymond,

I'm not up on phone packages or the underlying technology that might make one service a prerequisite for the other...so more than usual all I've got is speculation. But in briefly looking at Cox Acadiana's page on calling features it looks like theirs is structured very differently with some things completely independent and others grouped into tiers.

I think most of these, or all, are very cheap to offer. To the extent that tech doesn't impose dependencies I think LUS would be smart to let people do a complete smorgasboard: for this price pick any 3, for that any 6, for this everything...(But I am seldom (well, never) asked for my marketing opinion. ;-) )

Ask 'em; they're local folks... my impression is that policies are very unformed still. Since Caller ID is a feature that folks get w/o cost on cell phones I bet a lot of people would regard it as a natural "phone" choice on an inexpensive local landline service...that would be attractive to me; especially once I realized Cox was gonna charge me 7.50 minimum.

John said...

Hi Nick,

I am honestly of two minds on the minimum...but like you it won't effect me directly. Do note that the 30 meg tier comes in just above the cutoff point. A tech-savvy person could do a lot with that sort of symmetrical service.

The other mind has to do with knowing that the national chatter has been that each fiber house costs a thousand dollars to light up.(Truck rolls and the fancy electronics and battery add up.) It'd take a hell of a long time to make that back if all you were selling at that location was a 16 dollar a month phone line. I'd still be tempted to take 'em on and upsell like mad...but with Louisiana imposing a law that forces LUS to make continual profits once the bond issue runs out my instincts could put the whole enterprise at risk. If I were really making the decision I'd like to know why places like Bristol felt compelled to do this. (Doing so didn't seem to effect their take rate which, I think, is up above 65%! So maybe I'm just being fussy.)

Seeing the fiber go in is exciting...but then the wait is even more excruciating. (smile)

If I can ask: How come you gonna stick with just the 50 meg internet? Don't do cable? Gonna use Hulu and netflix instead?

John said...

Monkeyboy,

I've not heard anything solid about caps...and am nervously awaiting.

LUS' largest competitive advantage is in their net connection. (The other stuff is likely to be merely better; the internet is gonna amount to a qualitative difference.) So my hope is that they'll do nothing to impose any hesitation on geeky opinion leaders like yourself and avoid caps.

As to Cox not enforcing their caps...I'm not so sure; they apparently seldom cut you off. But... I recently got an HD TV and as part of a household upgrade put a PS3 and an old macbook with Boxee on the network and started using both. Big downloads to setup and bigger downloads of things like HD netflix streams. The one P2P Boxee download I tried slowed down to virtually nothing. And video chat on both PS3 and iChat has turned unusable when 3 or 4 months ago local iChat was great. Now it is also true that the HD channels are also very pixelated and one movie I tried to watch was just plain impossible to view. So maybe its just network constraints in general. I only just got access to the HD just before Christmas and started using the other goodies since Christmas so maybe this is "normal."

But it does smell to me like bandwidth scarcity. And Cox admits to choking P2P. I suspect that's what I'm seeing here. (Or at least some sort of choking.) Can't say for sure; might just be my node is flaky. But like Mike I am _really_ looking forward to LUS' clean symmetrical speeds.

I'm really interested in your setup. Sounds interesting. Maybe we can converse over at Raymond's place?

Nick Istre said...

John,

"If I can ask: How come you gonna stick with just the 50 meg internet? Don't do cable? Gonna use Hulu and netflix instead?"

Basically. All three people in my household are heavy internet users and don't watch cable T.V. We watch DVDs, which is where Netflix comes in, and I also have the Samsung Blu-Ray player which also handles Netflix video and Pandora music streaming. And I also use TVersity to stream videos files stored on my file server to the XBox 360 (I'll also have to look into PlayOn since it allows streaming from more sources online to the Xbox than TVersity).

I do have some similar concerns as Monkeyboy when it comes to caps, though my impression for some reason was that there were no caps imposed. That might have been implied by something Huval said at one poine, or I may have heard other people discussing this, or it could just be me wishing it to be so. Probably a good idea to ask next time we can. Between three people we've used an average of around 100 GB of download bandwidth a month.

Raymond Camden said...

@John: Heh a meetup at my place would be chaotic with my kids. ;) But I could show off my electrical/wifi mashup. (Long story short - cable modem is upstairs. Walls are too thicnk for wireless downstairs. Use powerline networking to go to kitchen, kitchen has the wifi.)

@Nick: I'd like to talk to you a bit more about TVersity. I like it, but have issues with some videos being randomly choppy, yet when I check metadata on the video to 'good' videos, I don't see differences. Maybe we can talk on the Lafayette-Tech listserv? Don't want to clutter the blog here.

John said...

Nick, Raymond,

Let's do meet up at Lafayette-Tech. I don't worry too much about clutter but I think the setup there is much more conducive to real conversation.

I am vitally interested in both your setups. I've got a nice old creole cottage up almost 4 feet off the ground and have been swearing I was gonna crawl under the house and do a full Cat6/1 gig installation since we moved in for the stationary net devices. Doing automated backups over wifi is taxing. Been afraid to mix powerline in and since I'm so easy to rewire...

Since getting the new entertainment setup and with Fiber coming all this network stuff is much more pressing. On that score I'd like to compare TVersity and Boxee--which I am only barely getting properly setup but like a lot so far. Raymond, I know you're macish...if I can seduce you into trying Boxee (just yesterday in open alpha) I might could get some help with weird Screen Sharing issues. ;-)

--Folks not familiar with Lafayette Tech who stumble across this bit of quasi-insider discussion: please check out the google Lafayette-Tech list.

http://groups.google.com/group/lafayettetech

I posted a bit about it a while back if you'd like more background:

http://lafayetteprofiber.com/Blog/2008/11/lafayette-technology-google-discussion.html

Raymond Camden said...

Ok, I know I suggested moving the thread - but just a quick last comment to John's last reply.

Powerline networking: Don't be afraid. I'm _not_ a hardware guy myself, but this is as simple as plugging something in. It is _incredibly_ easy.

Mac Guy: I am a mac guy, but I ran TVersity on my last PC before I converted. It's a good box for media purposes and runs my SQL Server as well. (I mostly do MySQL now but still have a need for a SQL Server test, plus Verity only works under Windows/Linux so I need that when testing ColdFusion/Verity integration.)

Ok, sorry for hijacking the thread even more. ;)