Monday, January 26, 2009

"LUS continues to build a fiber workforce"

The Advertiser this morning runs two front page stories on the fiber project in advance of expected news on the network later this week. The boldface, above the fold headline is "LUS continues to build a fiber workforce." That article is pretty much a bare-bones list of project costs. The most interesting bit in the article is a listing of some of the good-paying workman-level jobs:

Of the employees, five are fiber optics technicians who make anywhere from $22.71 to $25.14 per hour. There are also four communication network technicians, all of whom make around $18 an hour.

There also are two customer service supervisors, one of whom is paid $27.25 per hour and the other who is paid $23.12 per hour. Two communications customer service representatives are each paid $14.16 per hour.

The printed version of the story (but not the online one) contains what looks to be a listing of all hourly wages of the division's 47 current employees. The 14.16/hr is the lowest paying job on the list.

Those are good jobs—steady, good-paying Lafayette jobs. Folks should be reassured that the community network will produce a core of good-paying high-tech jobs in Lafayette solely on the basis of maintaining the network.

The rest of the story is pretty much a recounting of the contract costs. Again, the printed version has a long listing of the contract amounts and a sketchy label telling what the company supplies.

I can wish for more complete reporting....what's missing is any context, any background, any education of the public. Providing such is the civic purpose of any newspaper.

For instance, about wages: How much money do these wages add up to? It's common in businesse reporting to report on the total wages that a new company will bring into the local economy. Are these wages comparable to the others in the industry? To wages paid by local competitors like Cox and AT&T. How many employees of Cox and AT&T are based in Lafayette? (If the private providers refuse to reveal such information that too should be part of the reporting.)

Or about contracts: A sentence or two of background on the low-bid law governing the awarding of contracts might be useful as would be some indication of just how specialized the work is and how large this project is. This is a big enough network that there are really few companies world-wide that could tackle it. The specialized network equipment—like the IP-capable Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) is likewise only available in the large quantities required from a few companies with world-wide reach.

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