Saturday, February 28, 2009

LUS Fiber Outside Installation

I'm behind on my LUS Fiber reporting...I've tried something new: here's a Flicker set "illustrated story" of the outside part of my installation.

Long story short: the outside installationg went smoothly and took about 2 hours; that seemed like a pretty quick install considering all that they did; that they were still getting used to the process and were training a new guy.

The slideshow story is embedded below. You can just play it--but that won't be very interesting since the descriptive narrative won't be visible. To get the story start the show, mouse to the bottom left to show the controls and pause the show, the click on the expand button that appears at lower right hand corner, go to the upper right and turn on "show info" to get the narration. Then you click through the nice big images and read the story...Or you could take the easy way out and just jump to the standard page and read the story while looking at the photos in the regular way.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

LUS Fiber at the State of the Cty-Parish

Archived Broadcast by Ustream.TV
Fiber figured prominently in Mayor-president Joey Durel's state of the City-Parish address. (All those hyphens have to do with our peculiar consolidated form of government, something which got direct attention in the speech when Durel shared his belief that we'd never have true consolodation.) While political manuvering and recriminations about the failure of the sales tax proposal occupied much of the presenation, friends of fiber had their highlight reel.

The launch of LUS Fiber in early February has to be the signature success of the Durel administration. It was a daring move on Durel's part to so aggressively develop the fiber initiative in his first months and to unfailingly support it in the face of oft ugly opposition from two of the nation's largest and most politically powerful monopolies. That courage was tested locally as well; while the community from left to right overwhelming swung into support, the original power base of the City-Parish's first republican Mayor-president—the monied elite that promoted his candidacy and helped put him in office—was at best tepid and never came through with promised support. Durel's commitment never wavered and he has earned the credit that he began to claim in this speech. He's already reaped the political benefits: his reelection without opposition could be attributed to the fact of his high-profile success in this venture, and to the support he built among those who initially thought he'd be a typical Chamber of Commerce politician. By confounding expectations he both won new constituiencies and freed himself from old obligations. Durel is now, without doubt, both independent and the reigning political power in parish. (For an interesting view into his character I'd recommend reading this week's cover story on Dee Stanley in the Independent. His relationship with his chief luetenant is revealing. Don't miss, as well, the fact that he unflinchingly backed Tery Huval's fiber project even though, as the story reveals, Huval had cut an ad in support of his opponent. Character.)

But on to the story of the speech: Both the Advertiser and the Advocate covered the speech. The Advertiser also has its own video and you can get the LCG version off UStream. (The Advertiser's looks to be of higher resolution but autoplays.) AOC ran it live through convoluted technological tricks and you should be able to find it in rerun there.

The fiberlicious aspects:

It's Neat:
Via the Advocate:
The fiber system, which went on-line this month, offers residential Internet service up to 50 Mbps, a speed available in few areas of the country and generally costing more than twice as much as in Lafayette.

Connection speeds from customer to customer on the fiber system within Lafayette will be at 100 Mbps.
Via the Advertiser:
Durel also showed a snapshot of what LUS Fiber television customers will see when they turn on their sets. Viewers will be able to see a menu with local and national news, weather, public events and announcements, as well as the current agendas for City-Parish Council and Lafayette Parish School Board meetings.

We've Been Bragging on it:
Via the Advocate, Durel said:
“Last March I testified before Congress about our fiber,” Durel said. “I was able to look two dozen congressman in the eye and say that what we are going to have in Lafayette they wouldn’t have 20 or 25 years from now. That’s how far ahead of the curve that I think Lafayette is.”

Others have noticed:
Via the Advertiser
Durel said that LUS Fiber, which launched earlier this month in some parts of the city, has been a major factor in Lafayette's high rankings on several national lists. In the past year alone, different publications have named Lafayette one of the top 10 cities for the creative class, one of the top 10 innovative markets, one of the top 50 best places to work and play and the No. 1 city in America for new employment, among other recognitions."What makes many of these recognitions exciting to me is that several mention our Fiber to the Premises initiative," Durel said. "I don't think we would have received some of them had we not pursued it. Last March I testified before Congress about our fiber. I was able to look two dozen congressmen in the eye and say that what we are going to have in Lafayette, they wouldn't have 20 or 25 years from now. That's how far ahead of the curve I think we are."
Getting to this point required a political effort and Durel was at the head of that teamwork. He helped make it sure that the inevitable fiber network that will be built in Lafayette will be ours. And make no mistake: The most important feature of our network is that it is our network—not speed, not cheaper fees, not channel lineups, not bragging rights, not jobs, or development: the fact that it's ours and we can do with it as we think best is by far its most important feature. It is independence that we won; that first and foremost.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Ordering LUS Fiber Service

When my blue fiber announcement came in the mail I immediately rang up the new LUS call center to sign up and lay claim to an installation date. A comfortingly local accent answered the phone, was overwhelmingly solicitous and had clearly been trained to explain what he was doing and why in patient detail. I'm the sort that likes understanding every little bit so I enjoyed the experience. YMMV. :-)

The order didn't go overwhelmingly smoothly. They've just started up the ordering process, and clearly have in place an elaborate computer database setup to methodically walk through the necesarily complex details involved complex services—getting you registered, address, identity validation, phone numbers, porting, 911 service, email address, passwords, confirming question (like mother's maiden name), multiple channel packages, and other seemingly endless bits and pieces. I managed to find oddnesses in the software. (My street name has a St. before it & a St. after & my name has a St. before...that software can be confused by such I know from long, unhappy experience with university databases--my guess is that the software designer didn't live in South Louisiana...)

I didn't buy a simple bundled package, but broke it up into high end internet, a middling channel package, and a minimal landline phone order. The folks on the other line handled all that quite easily and when you order you should know that you can unbundle almost anything...including buying phone services a la carte. Just ask. One thing I forgot to ask about in my eagerness was static IP addresses--a beta tester told me that he's got one and that it is supposed to cost $5.00 a month. If you want such just ask. My experience was that the folks on the other end of the line either actually know all the details or when they are uncertain just ask...a good norm in a service center.

At the end of the afternoon after a couple of callbacks all was done, and I was and remain an exceedingly happy man. (Who now has to take that Cat 6 out of his trunk and actually finish rewiring the house.)

For those who've asked for the nitty-gritty details...remember you did ask...here is the long version:

The Process:
  1. You get a nifty sheet folded to make it into a two page (4 page front and back) promotional brochure. The brochure comes folded in half to make a mailer the size of a large postcard. It's sealed with tape and tucked inside you'll find two informational sheets with all the prices and the most current channel lineup.
  2. You eagerly tear it open
  3. Get with your significant other/s and decide on what you want
  4. Call the number on the flyer (99-Fiber)
  5. Transverse the phone tree to get to hold of one of those new LUS service reps. Punch 1 and then 1 again... I got a very nice guy with a distinctly local accent who was both methodical and very solicitous.
  6. They go through a process to verify that you really are in the area that is currently open for service. This verification apparently is separated from the sign-up process so they ask for a few things a second time later on. (But my guy told me he was going to be asking again and apologized in anticipation. I was in no mood to worry about such.)
  7. Once you are confirmed as a potential location they want to know who you are. You get to verify your identity, in my case by SSN, and get an identity in their system. I provided a password and the answer to a standard security question.
  8. Then you get to give your address and billing address. That should be easy. But in my case having a "St." in front of the street name caused problems. We eventually hit on a series of letters that the database acknowledged existed. (Saint needs to be spelled out.)
  9. Part of confirming your address is that you need to have one that the 911 system acknowledges. So the address needs to go in and be accepted in that database. We wrestled with that a bit too...as it turns out that field doesn't like the other "St." —the one that denotes "Street." (That one needs to be left off entirely.) Coming out of that series of retries we got a "unexpected error" error. —Another of those ever so informative computer messages. He couldn't get unhung and asked to call back.
  10. He got unhung and called back. We managed to duplicate the error. Great for bug tracking. Frustrating to my service guy. He let me go again.
  11. My callback was from a nice, brisk, and apologetic woman who apparently was the supervisor. Anyone who has hung on technical support lines for hours recognizes that I'd had a level upgrade... She muscled past the buggy screens and finalized my setup.
  12. At that point I "just" had to specify my order. That was complex. Even the most minimal land line has to go through a lot to port a number and set up all the required 911 details. I asked a lot of questions (being who I am) about service details on the internet side, got the fancy 50 meg symmetric package, and a digital DVR box with one premium channel...That involved a lot of talk.
  13. She set me up on the spot for an inside install and let me know that the outside installer would be coming but would ring us up first.
  14. She apologized for everything one more time, checked my particulars and let me go. Done!
It's a lot to get hooked up with, validation details, all those services, myriad supporting details, and to setting up two appointments all at one blow. Especially since I was so eager. But my experience with folks on the other end were that they were methodical with and unfailingly helpful toward even for an over-eager beaver like myself.

I eagerly await.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Fiber Availability Mailer

I know if I were out there I'd want details...so I scanned the mailer I got and am posting them below. What you see are index pics. Click on them to get the absurdly large images that I made for archival purposes.

Here's how the experience went for me: My wife brought in the mail, looked up smiling and said: "There's something here I think you'll want." One look told me she was right. (Layne's always right.)

What I got was a slim glossy mailer taped up on three sides; right there on the front it said: "Service is now available to you."


And on the back "LUS Fiber is here. Welcome to YOUR Future."

I slit it open with my trusty, rusty pocket knife and it unfolded to an 81/2 by 11 brochure. The cover was pretty dramatic but what caught my eye was the phrase "Waiting was the hard part." My sentiments exactly.


Setting aside the two black and white sheets of 12 point type found inside I found a double truck with a note from Terry Huval on the left hand page touting the technical quality and hometown services of the new network.


The right hand page laid out the advantages of the fiber network and gave five reasons to switch. Can't say as I paid much attention at first; I knew I was going to buy into the system. But they seem pretty sensible to me as I go back over it.


I wanted to sign up as soon as possible (natch) and scanned for that number Huval has been telling us we should only call after we get the notice in the mail. And there it was: 99-Fiber. My wife and I quickly poured over the details; we'd thought about what we wanted before; we were not going with one of the packages but wanted to get the various pieces at different levels and since we wouldn't be penalized for doing so by LUS it was easy to do without a lot of complex calculation or second guessing. We talked briefly and confirmed our choices with each other quickly. (Yes, she was ok with it if I indulged in the 50 megs symmetrical...you've heard smiles described as indulgent? Like that.) Here's what we looked at. Don't take it as current necessarily. As I understand it channels are still being added daily. But as an historical artifact...here you go:



Fiber Availability Mailer Appears!!

I'm thrilled to announce that at least one person has gotten his fiber announcement delivered through snail mail: ME!

Thrilled is not really the word. :-)

Look for the distinctive blue (Cyan, or pretty near) that dominates.

After you cut through the tape that holds it closed it'll unfold into a glossy brochure with two pages of inserts detailing the services and pricing offered.

At right are what mine looked like when I threw them down on the dining table to take these pics. Click on them to get a larger version.

The cover turns out to be the "newsflyer" I fell across via Google back in January...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

WBS: "Fiber optics backers say expect some obstacles"

"What's Being Said Dept."

The local paper in Salisbury, North Carolina published an article today that featured the head of Lafayette's utilities, Terry Huval. Of interest to the folks in Salisbury was an overview of the difficulties and rewards inherent in building a community-owned fiber-optic network. Huval and representatives from Dalton, Georgia's successful fiber optic network, along with the CEO of the fiber engineering firm involved in both builds, laid out the case for publicly-owned fiber; assured the citizens of Salisbury that they could expect opposition from the incumbents; and pointed to Lafayette's success in attracting new jobs and Dalton's 70% penetration as proof of that the concept could work.

As intriguing as such a presentation must be, more interesting to those of us from Lafayette is the odd sensation of looking at ourselves in the mirror that such presentations provide and realizing that that is how we look to others. Some tidbits to whet your interest:

Huval detailed efforts by the private cable providers to have special state legislation passed against Lafayette's initiative and several costly lawsuits aimed at stopping the project.

"We spent $3.5 million with nothing to show for it," Huval said of legal defenses.

But Lafayette officials figured they saved cable subscribers $4 million in deferred rate hikes during the court fights, he said.

and

Lafayette already has landed a Canadian call center, which employs 600, because the company was attracted by the fiber-to-the-home venture. Other companies are on the horizon, Huval said, waiting for more of the system to be installed.

He predicted the high-tech opportunities will bring more of Lafayette's college kids back home.

and

Huval, Cope and Salter all said a fiber optic system is the telecom infrastructure of the future, even if wireless improves in capacity and becomes more reliable. The capacity, speed and dependability of wireless will never approach the fiber broadband, they said.

Salter predicted wireless will keep growing in use but not for the wholesale application of bandwidths.

Huval described wireless as "too finicky," and too often affected by weather. Making it subscriber-based would be a bad idea, he added.

An interesting story, and well written.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sharing The Wealth

Terry Huval is in Salisbury, North Carolina today sharing what he has learned with the city council there. The Salisbury Post has the story:

Part of Salisbury City Council's annual retreat Thursday and Friday will concentrate on what the future might hold in the fiber-optic cable business.

As part of its schedule Friday, council will have a panel discussion from 9:45 to 11 a.m. on "Inventing a Brighter Future with Fiber."

Guest panelists will be Terry Huval, director of utilities for Lafayette, La.; James Salter, chief strategy officer with Atlantic Engineering Group; and Don Cope, president and chief executive officer of Dalton (Ga.) Utilities.

Huval later will be guest speaker at Friday's luncheon at City Hall. His topic will be "Rolling Out Fiber to the Home; Adopting a Winning Strategy for Your Community."

Salisbury is hearing the voice of experience at its retreat. Lafayette just launched the nation's largest fiber project. Atlantic Engineering did the engineering work for LUS (as well as many other municipal projects—especially those in the South). Dalton is one of the oldest (and most successful) municipal FTTH projects.

Salisbury is well down the road toward initiating its own FTTH project and will be blazing a path of its own: Salisbury does not have a municipal power utility, an advantage that other cities engaged in such projects have had. It has had to negotiate a pole attachment agreement with the local power company and will have to build up an entirely new utility. The challenges don't end there: it is also setting up to pursue a public bond offering in these difficult times. They sound determined in North Carolina.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Man To Watch: Skrmetta & Pay To Play Politics in LA

Put Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta on your guys to watch closely list—he apparently thinks there's nothing wrong with letting the companies you regulate help pay for your office and then holding a white tie soiree to retire the debt you run up winning a public office that is supposed to regulate them. All citizens should feel obliged to watch this guy but the charge is especially incumbent upon those of us here in Lafayette who now own a piece of one of those companies the PSC regulates.

Back in the old days, before AT&T (née BellSouth) drafted up the (un)Fair Competition Act a publicly-owned and operated company like LUS was not placed under the the thumb of the guys over in Baton Rouge. In fact the constitution appeared to explicitly forbid it. The assumption back then was that local people didn't need any help from the state to do right by themselves. The old Idea behind regulation, especially the regulation of what are essentially utilities, was that people who had to rely on large for-profit monopolies to provide services needed the protection of at least a state level protector. It's been a while since it was obvious to outside observers that the regulators did much to control the behavior of companies they regulated; instead it seems that the regulators too often run the show behind the scene and use the state to raise rates, "deregulate" their monopolies, or keep down any incipient competition.

It's the latter that Lafayette partisans need to worry about: the PSC is notoriously a creature of the phone company and AT&T is hard at work making sure that doesn't change. LUS, as the only company regulated under the (un)Fair Act, is sure to be the target of rules rigged up by AT&T. And Skrmetta is gonna have some big time debts to pay off.

According to New Orlean's City Business the newly elected Republican was the only candidate running in that race that accepted campaign money from the industries he was elected to regulate.

Now that he's actually elected he is apparently an even better investment. Bill Oliver, president of AT&T Louisiana makes no bones about his sponsoring a $1000 dollar a head soiree to help pay off campaign debts. ($5, 000 dollars for corporate sponsorship) Sez Oliver:
“He’s a new commissioner, he’s got a serious amount of debt and my intent is to help hold an event that would eliminate his debt,” Oliver said. “It’s legal and I’m following the guidelines of state laws.”
and

Oliver said he doesn’t think fundraisers such as his compromise relationships because they are legal. He said if citizens feel the law should be changed, they should approach the Legislature.

Silly me, here I thought that there was a whole category of things that were legal but flat out wrong. Legal or not the real question should be whether it is the right thing to do to either offer to pay of the personal debt of a man who regulates you (or to accept money from a corporation you are morally obligated to regulate).

Good government types think it stinks; PAR, a pro-business organization generally —indeed Oliver sits on the board—has advocated and continues to advocate a law to make such shenanigans illegal since it is apparent that appealing to honor and a sense of ethics is a waste of effort.

Under heavy pressure from public opinion and those obnoxious editorial writers who think that accepting favors from those you regulate is, uh, questionable the PSC recently wrote rules forbidding its members from accepting lunch favors from those they regulate. AT&T was exhibit A spending nearly 2,000 dollars on lunch for PSC members and staffers in '08. Maybe, just maybe, lunch is less serious issue than helping pay to gain the office itself....you'd think. And they talk about pay to play in Illinois.

At any rate: watch this guy. Skrmetta, Eric Skremetta. He's made it clear that he won't do the right thing unless he's closely watched. And maybe not even then. Congrats and hearty at-a-boy to City Business who shows that they have retained some sense of what justifies papers and journalism: educating the public. Theirs is a truly incisive article.


Lagniappe: In the category of guys to watch: don't forget Jindal's legislative liason: Former BellSouth head lobbyist Tommy Williams. He headed up the Gov's ethics reform. (Convincingly putting to rest the rumor that it had anything to do with stemming the corporate side of corrruption.) He was a VP at BellSouth...and had a history with Lafayette and LUS' fiber project that included a role at the PSC you might want to recall.

Update-2/11/09: Mike took a look at the ethics reports and says that AT&T and AT&T's pac contibuted $15,000 dollars to the campaign before the "soiree." That soiree was apparently meant to retire a $350,000 dollar personal loan that Skrmetta made to his own campaign. All this brings up pretty significant questions about a system in which only the wealthy can afford to run for public office but can, if they see no ethical conflicts, rely on those whose livelihoods they influence, to "generously" retire the large personal debts they acquire running for office. I cannot believe that anyone, including AT&T and Eric Skrmetta, really thinks there is no quid pro qou, no implicit pay to play in such a scenerio.

Watch these guys.

"Stay Tuned"

The Independent came out today and in it is a story on LUS Fiber—the launch, the short delay, and (very little on) the pace of the rollout. There's info there that I've not seen elsewhere; evidence that the reporter probably actually called up and asked some of the more obvious questions—and found the limits of what LUS is currently willing to say.

On immediate service:
This week, it is sending out mailers to a select number of Lafayette residents eligible to begin receiving service. Connecting the service will take approximately two weeks from the time an eligible resident calls in to subscribe. Billing will begin March 1. LUS Director Terry Huval will not say how many mailers will be going out through the week, or how many people LUS is ready to begin providing service to.
On longer-term rollout plans:
As far as a timeline for its rollout, LUS is sticking to its initial projections. Last year, LUS released a build-out map breaking the city down into four rollout phases. Huval did say that all residents in Phase I will likely be able to receive service by the end of this year. Beyond that, he says only that LUS expects to have offered the service to everyone within the city limits by the first quarter of 2011. “That’s the objective we’ve set for ourselves.”
The emphasis on quality appears to partially explain both the delay and the slow rollout:
For those customers who do receive service, Huval says he expects they will immediately notice a difference in quality. “The quality of our system is going to be pristine by all standards,” he says. With an all-fiber network, he contends customers should never experience the kind of TV picture pixelation or delay that sometimes occurs when cable providers push their bandwidth to the limit. “The picture quality even on standard definition is significantly superior to what I have seen on standard definition on other providers,” Huval says. “In fact, in some cases, our standard definition doesn’t look too much different than what you would see on high definition. It really has a difference.”

Huval adds LUS’ controlled rollout is due in part to its commitment to quality service. “This is just the beginning,” he says. “We’re hopeful that our customers will be pleased with our customer service, with our constistency, with our reliability.
There's also some good, meaty stuff on the struggles to get the extensive cable channel lineup complete—and a bit about the crucial National Cable Television Cooperative (a coop of small independents that are federally chartered and protected) that has recently re-opened membership. As I understand it, there is also a coop for small telecos...and with LUS an official CLEC, a phone company, they might be in the unique situation to pick and choose between different coop schedules and their own independently negotiated contracts. And it's not just about money—the conditions of use, which could be very important on LUS' very flexible system—would also be in play. Complex stuff indeed.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Selling Point

Got an email day before yesterday from a guy who was determined to find a rent house in a newly fibered district NOW. I know how he feels but couldn't much help. —But we should start seeing news of the first "You've got Fiber!" mailers soon but I don't know where the first batch went. (Anyone got their blue mailers announcing service? Let us know in the comments!)

But that interest in a rent house, any rent house, just as long as it was on a street with the new fiber piqued both of the cells in my real estate brain and when I went a-googleing I found the following ad for a house in Broadmoor. (My emphasis.)
Neutral colors throughout. Dramatic floorplan offers living, dining, and kitchen all open to each other. Elevated ceilings, corner fireplace, and stained concrete floors offer lots of charm to this interior. Patio access from master suite- 2 closets in master bath with a beautifully bright skylight ... great for busy people. Garage and patio area make the most of this backyard ... Just waiting for a gardeners touch. Looks 2-story, but really 1-story plan. No-thru street makes for a very quiet location. LUS installing fiber in the subdivision. Seller can help with buyers closing costs.
It's a selling point already.....

Sunday, February 08, 2009

"Residents consider fiber"

The Sunday Advertiser runs a person-in-the-street story on fiber, talking to a few folks about their decision-making process. (In so far as they've formulated one. I doubt that most of us have.) Reported reactions range roughly from "I need to know more." to "I can't wait."

There's no doubt for me, of course. I'm thinking more like Dr. Feinburg:

...who lives along Twin Oaks Boulevard, said he is eager to sign up for LUS Fiber and is particularly interested in using its Internet service. Officials have said that the almost-unlimited amount of bandwidth and speeds will mean a faster Internet for LUS customers.

"I'm doing more than thinking about it," Feinberg said. "I think it's progressive and forward-thinking for our city."

Sure there'll start-up glitches. I'm looking forward to grousing about them. It's all part of being able to brag later that I signed on first chance I got. In the end we'll get much better service and the chance to use our money to develop resources in our city instead of lining the pockets of somebody in Atlanta or Dallas.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

"LUS Fiber network generates buzz"

The Advertiser reports on the happy local buzz about the new community fiber-optic network. Ron Guidry is heard promoting a series of workshops for small business owners, I exhibit enthusiasm about our enhanced ability to communicate with each other, and Tim Supple now frets about LUS being too successful (an encouraging change from his earlier tune).

It's a fun read.

WBS: "After Five Years Of Fighting, Lafayette Gets Their Fiber"

What's Being Said Dept.

Karl Bode over Broadband Reports is another that has been tracking Lafayette's trials for years and his take on the long-anticipated launch is similar to others who have been watching. It was a fight; one that the citizens won:
We've been tracking the deployment of municipally-owned fiber in Lafayette, Louisiana for years, the project being particularly notable for some of the sleazy efforts made by Cox and AT&T (then SBC) to kill it. Those efforts, back in 2005, included everything from hinting at exporting local support jobs if the deal was approved, to hiring push pollsters to try and convince locals that the government-controlled project would result in politicians rationing consumer TV viewing. Needless to say, Cox and Bellsouth lost.
Bode also notes that we're getting something for our efforts:
A few weeks ago, Lafayette Utilities System (LUS) unveiled their pricing for the service, offering triple play bundles ranging from $84.85 to $200, with downstream broadband services ranging from 10Mbps to 50Mbps (all symmetrical). LUS offers standalone symmetrical 10Mbps for $28.95, 30Mbps for $44.95, and 50Mbps for $57.95. There's no caps, no contracts, and no installation fee.

Those prices handily beat not only local competitors Cox and AT&T (it's now pretty clear why they fought so hard), but carriers in other markets too. Comcast offers a 50Mbps tier in select markets for $139.95 (when bundled), but its upstream speed is 5Mbps. Verizon's 50Mbps/20Mbps service costs $144.95/month standalone, or $139.95 when bundled. The fastest speed AT&T currently offers customers is 18Mbps/1.5Mbps, which is $65 a month if you bundle TV service.
But the real treat for locals is the unalloyed envy exhibited by the usually raucous and dismissive crowd of commentators at the site. The first commentator says: "I would literally murder someone to get symmetrical 50Mbps..." and the ensuing debate continues with a review of which body part other discussants would give to have that access.

As a special treat Joey Durel logs in and plugs the 100 meg peer-to-peer network:
Thank you all for your comments. We are excited by the possibilities this brings to our community. We put together a very conservative business plan and should easily be able to sustain our pricing. Of course as programming costs go up, our prices will go up, and so will the competition. One thing not mentioned is the fact that we are also giving 100MBS peer to peer, for FREE. And, if this initiative doesn't live up to the expectations, my neck is on the chopping block. I think it is worth the minimal risk. And, by the way, this is not backed by the government, so taxpayers are not at risk. These are revenue bonds backed by our utilities system, and while there is some risk it is actually very low. Thanks again,

Joey Durel
Lafayette City-Parish President
And, hey, on top of all that it is sunny and warm in the hub city.

WBS: "Lafayette, La., finally gets its fiber network"

What's Being Said Dept.

Marguerite Reardon over at CNet has been following the Lafayette Fiber saga since the beginning (and posted on-target pieces both on the fight and on the victory) so it's not surprising to see that she's capped that with a good piece on "Lafayette, La., finally gets its fiber network."
After nearly five years of planning and fighting with local cable and phone companies, the Lafayette Utilities System opened its fiber-optic broadband network for business.
Whew! I thought it was more than "discussions"..... and, on CNet's account the fight was actually about something:

It's easy to see why Cox Communications, the local cable operator, and AT&T, which bought local phone company BellSouth, are threatened by LUS. Pricing for the new triple play services are very competitive. Consumers can get a triple play bundle from about $85 to $200 a month. And the broadband services offer download and upload speeds between 10Mbps to 50Mbps. The standalone broadband service costs about $29 for symmetrical 10Mbps downloads and uploads; $45 for 30Mbps, and $58 for 50Mbps service. The service doesn't require a contract and there's no installation fee.

The maximum download speed offered by AT&T is 6Mbps for $43 a month. And it's cheapest is a 768Kbps service for $20 a month. Cox only offers Internet download speeds up to 15Mbps. Depending on what specific services are selected, bundled pricing from AT&T and Cox is comparable. The big exception is that AT&T and Cox offer these prices as part of a promotion, whereas LUS prices are the actual standard prices and will not expire.

Lafayette is just one of many cities that has tried to build it own broadband network. Other cities and regions such as Provo, Utahhave attempted to do the same thing. In nearly every instance, cable and phone companies have tried to prevent these network build outs.

Now just why is it that to get coverage that notices the real history, the actual fight, a succienct comparison of the offerings, and the real reasons why the incumbents (rightly) feared a community network we have to a national tech news source?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Media Roundup: LUS Fiber Launches

All the local media have at least a short reaction to yesterday's surprise evening launch of Lafayette's Fiber To The Home network branded "LUS Fiber." If you'd like to cruise through the regional media outlets, here is the quick click list: The Advertiser, The Advocate, KATC, KLFY.

The Advertiser, while still resolutely refusing to acknowledge that there was anything more than "discussion" involved in the battle to secure Lafayette's network, has a good story laying out the basics and even better (online only) sidebars with a wealth of specific info. The juiciest bits for those hungry for the service might be the hints at how fast the "soft rollout" might pick up. Says Huval:
Beginning today, LUS will begin mailing out notices to customers in the first phase of the controlled rollout to let them know how to sign up for the services.

"What we will do is in the beginning stages, we're going to be putting a smaller number of invitations out there to customers," Huval said. "We want to make sure we continue to learn the process and give them time to make their decisions. As we get more proficient at it, we're going to pick up the pace."

Huval said he expects the number of mailouts to gradually increase in the next month or so, and LUS Fiber should be moving at its maximum pace shortly after that.
Also of note, from the comments section at 9:51 this morning:
Between phone and internet (ATT) and cable( Cox HD/DVR and all digital tiers and HBO/Starz) I am paying $217 per month. The VIP gold package at $199 offers over 10 times faster internet and all the movie channels. There are a few differences, but none that I noticed would affect my viewing. If I changed a few things I'm sure my savings would be much larger, but right now it is a no brainer for me to switch. I can't wait until I get the card in the mail that my street is active. I won't have any problem dumping Cox and ATT (who is now Yahoo internet).
I need to try to figure out a similar comparison for my situation . . . .

The Advocate polls in with its own story and adds a tidbit about the projected wait between ordering service and switching on the new service and how that will change over time:
Huval said interested residents should wait until a card arrives in the mail announcing availability.

He anticipates there will initially be a two-week turnaround from the time a resident calls to when service is connected.

“It will be slow to begin with and then faster as it goes,” Huval said.
The Advocate also posts a rather dry quote from mayor Durel (I'm missing that ol' time testifying):
“This infrastructure will allow Lafayette to continue making great enhancements to our city during a time when many areas are experiencing a slowdown in development,” Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel said in a written statement.

“Beyond these initial services, the LUS Fiber infrastructure will favorably position Lafayette for economic development and other opportunities to move our community forward.”
Both KATC and KLFY post short bits to the web without video. I guess the jackrabbit launch left 'em with no time to work up an interesting visual, and B-roll of holes in the ground isn't too visually exciting. To some people. :-)

"BREAKING NEWS: LUS Fiber launches"

The Advertiser is up with a brief breaking news story, a pdf of the description sheet, and—most interesting—the channel lineup.

Basic Tier ($17.00)

2 Channel Guide
3 Acadiana Open Channel 1
4 Acadiana Open Channel 2
5 KATC / ABC
6 KADN / FOX
7 KPLC / NBC
8 QVC
9 EWTN
10 The Weather Channel
11 KLFY/ CBS
12 KLPB/ PBS
13 KLAF/ MYNetwork
14 CSPAN
15 KLWB/ CW
16 WAFB/ CBS
17 WBRZ/ ABC
18 Louisiana Connection Network (KLFT)
19 LPB+
20 KAJN/ FAM


Expanded Basic Tier ($39.95)

2 Channel Guide
3 Acadiana Open Channel 1
4 Acadiana Open Channel 2
5 KATC/ ABC
6 KADN/ FOX
7 KPLC/ NBC
8 QVC
9 EWTN
10 The Weather Channel
11 KLFY/ CBS
12 KLPB/ PBS
13 KLAF/ MYNetwork
14 CSPAN
15 KLWB/ CW
16 WAFB/ CBS
17 WBRZ/ ABC
18 Louisiana Connection Network (KLFT)
19 LPB+
20 KAJN/ FAM
25 Home Shopping Network
26 TNT
27 TBS
28 Noggin
29 USA
30 FX Network
31 Fox Sports Southwest
32 ESPN
33 ESPNews
34 ESPN Classic
35 ESPNU
36 ESPN2
37 Cox Sports
38 NFL Channel
39 Golf Channel
40 Disney
41 Toon Disney
42 ABC Family
43 Nickelodeon
44 TV Land
45 SciFi
46 Black Entertainment Television (BET)
47 MSNBC
48 CNBC
49 CNN
50 Headline News
51 ABC News Now
52 Fox News
53 Hallmark Channel
54 Shop NBC
55 A&E
56 The History Channel
57 Animal Planet
58 Discovery
59 TLC (The Learning Channel)
60 Travel Channel
61 Comedy Central
62 Biography Channel
63 Lifetime Movie (LMN)
64 Lifetime
65 SoapNet
66 Oxygen
67 E! Entertainment
68 Bravo
69 America Movie Classics (AMC)
70 Turner Classic Movies
71 TV 5 Monde
72 Style
73 Fine Living
74 Food Network
75 HGTV
76 Versus
77 DIY
78 Spike TV
79 G4
80 Tru-TV
81 TV One
82 MTV
83 VH1
84 Great American Country
85 Country Music Television
86 History Channel International
87 MTV2
88 Univision

Digital Basic Tier ($51.44)

1 Video On Demand
2 Channel Guide
3 Acadiana Open Channels 1
4 Acadiana Open Channels 2
5 KATC/ ABC
6 KADN/ FOX
7 KPLC/ NBC
8 QVC
9 EWTN
10 The Weather Channel
11 KLFY/ CBS
12 KLPB/ PBS
13 KLAF/ MYNetwork
14 CSPAN
15 KLWB/ CW
16 WAFB/ CBS
17 WBRZ/ ABC
18 Louisiana Connection Network (KLFT)
19 LPB+
20 KAJN/ FAM
25 Home Shopping Network
26 TNT
27 TBS
28 Noggin
29 USA
30 FX Network
31 Fox Sports Southwest
32 ESPN
33 ESPNews
34 ESPN Classic
35 ESPNU
36 ESPN2
37 Cox Sports
38 NFL Channel
39 Golf Channel
40 Disney
41 Toon Disney
42 ABC Family
43 Nickelodeon
44 TV Land
45 SciFi
46 Black Entertainment Television (BET)
47 MSNBC
48 CNBC
49 CNN
50 Headline News
51 ABC News Now
52 Fox News
53 Hallmark Channel
54 Shop NBC
55 A&E
56 The History Channel
57 Animal Planet
58 Discovery
59 TLC (The Learning Channel)
60 Travel Channel
61 Comedy Central
62 Biography Channel
63 Lifetime Movie (LMN)
64 Lifetime
65 SoapNet
66 Oxygen
67 E! Entertainment
68 Bravo
69 America Movie Classics (AMC)
70 Turner Classic Movies
71 TV 5 Monde
72 Style
73 Fine Living
74 Food Network
75 HGTV
76 Versus
77 DIY
78 Spike TV
79 G4
80 Tru-TV
81 TV One
82 MTV
83 VH1
84 Great American Country
85 Country Music Television
86 History Channel International
87 MTV2
88 Univision
201 KATC/ABC HD
202 KPLC/NBC HD
203 KLFY/CBS HD
204 KADN/FOX HD
205 LPB/PBS HD
500 DMX - Symphonic
501 DMX - Lite Classical
502 DMX - New Age
503 DMX - Tranquility
504 DMX - Smooth Jazz
505 DMX - Jazz
506 DMX - Gospel
507 DMX - Contemporary Christian
508 DMX - Modern Country
509 DMX - Traditional Country
510 DMX - Hit Country
511 DMX - Roadhouse
512 DMX - Golden Oldies
513 DMX - 70's Hits
514 DMX - 80"s Hits
515 DMX - Flashback New Wave
516 DMX - 90's Hits
517 DMX - Adult Contemporary
518 DMX - Soft Hits
519 DMX - Coffeehouse Rock
520 DMX - Adult Alternative
521 DMX - Hottest Hits
522 DMX - Classic Rock
523 DMX - Alternative
524 DMX - Album Rock
525 DMX - Dance
526 DMX - Subterranean
527 DMX - Urban Beat
528 DMX - Edited Rap
529 DMX - Hot Jamz
530 DMX - Urban Adult Contemporary
531 DMX - Classic R&B
532 DMX - Blues
533 DMX - Reggae
534 DMX - Childrens
535 DMX - Holidays & Happenings
536 DMX - Hurbano
537 DMX - Salsa
538 DMX - Rock en Espanol
539 DMX - Latin Contemporary

Digital Plus Tier ($63.31)

1 Video On Demand
2 Channel Guide
3 Acadiana Open Channel 1
4 Acadiana Open Channel 2
5 KATC/ ABC
6 KADN/ FOX
7 KPLC/ NBC
8 QVC
9 EWTN
10 The Weather Channel
11 KLFY/ CBS
12 KLPB/ PBS
13 KLAF/ MYNetwork
14 CSPAN
15 KLWB/ CW
16 WAFB/ CBS
17 WBRZ/ ABC
18 Louisiana Connection Network (KLFT)
19 LPB+
20 KAJN/ FAM
25 Home Shopping Network
26 TNT
27 TBS
28 Noggin
29 USA
30 FX Network
31 Fox Sports Southwest
32 ESPN
33 ESPNews
34 ESPN Classic
35 ESPNU
36 ESPN2
37 Cox Sports
38 NFL Channel
39 Golf Channel
40 Disney
41 Toon Disney
42 ABC Family
43 Nickelodeon
44 TV Land
45 SciFi
46 Black Entertainment Television (BET)
47 MSNBC
48 CNBC
49 CNN
50 Headline News
51 ABC News Now
52 Fox News
53 Hallmark Channel
54 Shop NBC
55 A&E
56 The History Channel
57 Animal Planet
58 Discovery
59 TLC (The Learning Channel)
60 Travel Channel
61 Comedy Central
62 Biography Channel
63 Lifetime Movie (LMN)
64 Lifetime
65 SoapNet
66 Oxygen
67 E! Entertainment
68 Bravo
69 America Movie Classics (AMC)
70 Turner Classic Movies
71 TV 5 Monde
72 Style
73 Fine Living
74 Food Network
75 HGTV
76 Versus
77 DIY
78 Spike TV
79 G4
80 Tru-TV
81 TV One
82 MTV
83 VH1
84 Great American Country
85 Country Music Television
86 History Channel International
87 MTV2
88 Univision
100 TBN
102 Hallmark Movie Channel
103 Independent Film Channel
104 Game Show Network (GSN)
105 Cartoon Network
106 Sprout PBS Kids
107 The N
108 Nicktoons Network
109 Boomerang
110 CNN International
111 Discovery Kids
112 LPB Create
114 Nick 2
115 Jewelry TV
116 Discovery Health
117 Family Net
118 Lifetime Real Women
119 Inspiration
120 Inspirational Life
121 Gospel Music Channel
123 Fit TV
125 Women's Entertainment
126 Fox College Sports - Atlantic
127 Fox College Sports - Central
128 Fox College Sports - Pacific
130 Fuel
131 Speed Channel
132 The Outdoor Channel
133 Fox Soccer Channel
134 The Tennis Channel
135 TVG
136 Fox Business
137 Bloomberg
138 Fox Reality
139 National Geographic
140 The Africa Channel
141 BBC America
142 BBC World News
143 Military History Channel
144 The Science Channel
145 The Military Channel
146 Planet Green
147 Investigation Discovery
148 Crime & Investigation
149 Chiller
150 Sleuth
151 Logo
152 CSPAN-2
153 MTV Hits
154 MTV Jams
155 MTV TR3S
156 FUSE
157 MTVU
158 VH1 Classic
159 VH1 Soul
160 CMT Pure Country
161 BET on Jazz
201 KATC/ABC HD
202 KPLC/NBC HD
203 KLFY/CBS HD
204 KADN/FOX HD
205 LPB/PBS HD
206 ESPN HD
207 ESPN-2 HD
209 Showtime HD
211 The Movie Channel HD
212 STARZ! HD
213 Encore HD
214 CNN HD
215 Animal Planet HD
216 Disney HD
217 ABC Family HD
218 Planet Green HD
219 Discovery HD
220 Discovery HD Theatre
221 The Science Channel HD
222 TLC (The Learning Channel) HD
223 TNT HD
224 TBS HD
225 USA HD
226 Lifetime Movie (LMN) HD
227 SciFi HD
228 QVC HD
229 Lifetime HD
230 HGTV HD
231 Food Network HD
232 MHD
233 A&E HD
234 History Channel HD
235 Outdoor Channel HD
236 NFL Channel HD
238 BIO HD
500 DMX - Symphonic
501 DMX - Lite Classical
502 DMX - New Age
503 DMX - Tranquility
504 DMX - Smooth Jazz
505 DMX - Jazz
506 DMX - Gospel
507 DMX - Contemporary Christian
508 DMX - Modern Country
509 DMX - Traditional Country
510 DMX - Hit Country
511 DMX - Roadhouse
512 DMX - Golden Oldies
513 DMX - 70's Hits
514 DMX - 80"s Hits
515 DMX - Flashback New Wave
516 DMX - 90's Hits
517 DMX - Adult Contemporary
518 DMX - Soft Hits
519 DMX - Coffeehouse Rock
520 DMX - Adult Alternative
521 DMX - Hottest Hits
522 DMX - Classic Rock
523 DMX - Alternative
524 DMX - Album Rock
525 DMX - Dance
526 DMX - Subterranean
527 DMX - Urban Beat
528 DMX - Edited Rap
529 DMX - Hot Jamz
530 DMX - Urban Adult Contemporary
531 DMX - Classic R&B
532 DMX - Blues
533 DMX - Reggae
534 DMX - Childrens
535 DMX - Holidays & Happenings
536 DMX - Hurbano
537 DMX - Salsa
538 DMX - Rock en Espanol
539 DMX - Latin Contemporary


Digital Hispanic Tier ($5.00)

180 Telemundo (Mundo)
182 Mun2
183 SiTV (coming soon)
184 Discovery En Espanol
185 Discovery La Familia
186 CNNe
187 ESPN Deportes
189 The History Channel in Espanol

HBO Premium Movie Suite ($12.80)

301 HBO east
302 HBO west
303 HBO Plus east
304 HBO Plus west
305 HBO Comedy east
306 HBO Family east
307 HBO Latino
308 HBO Signature east
309 HBO Zone east

Cinemax Premium Movie Suite ($6.08)

310 Cinemax east
311 Cinemax west
312 MOREMax east
314 OuterMax east
315 Action Max east
316 Thriller Max east

Showtime Premium Movie Suite ($8.47)

317 Showtime east
318 Showtime west
319 Showtime Too east
320 Showtime Beyond east
321 Showtime Extreme east
322 Showtime Showcase east
323 Showtime Family east
324 Showtime Women east
325 Flix
326 The Movie Channel east
327 TMC Xtra east

Starz!/Encore Premium Movie Suite ($7.43)

328 Starz!
329 Starz! Cinema
330 Starz! Kids & Family
331 Starz! Comedy
332 Starz/ Edge
333 Starz! In Black
334 Encore
335 Encore Action
336 Encore Drama
337 Encore Love
338 Encore Mystery
339 Encore Westerns
340 EncoreWAM

Thursday, February 05, 2009

LUS Fiber Launches...email announcement

Hey LUS Fiber has launched! We don't know exactly where those blue notification post cards that let the lucky few in the controlled rollout know that they are among the select will go. Nor does the the link in the email bring you to a place where you can find the interim cable line-up—the lack of which was what was holding up the launch. Not splashy, not a high profile celebration style launch...but, hey, we can celebrate on our own.

The eagle has landed. The payoff is here.

LUS Fiber is officially "Open for Business" - providing video, Internet and phone services from our 100% fiber optic network to Lafayette residents. This community-owned infrastructure will offer residents and businesses enhanced television programming, the fastest Internet speeds, and crystal-clear phone services.

The most recent development of our network launch included release of the channel lineup. Additional channels will be released in the near future. Our team has successfully worked with many local and national programmers to negotiate agreements to make these channels available to LUS Fiber subscribers. With this, we are ready to begin offering video, Internet and phone services. Our initial offerings are only the beginning, as more features, channels and services will continue to be added to our network.

Providing services to new customers will be done through a controlled rollout. Residents will receive notification in the mail when LUS Fiber services are available to their home. Once received, customers can call us at 99-FIBER (993-4237) to sign-up for service or visit our Customer Service Center at 705 W. University.

Visit LUSFIBER.com for more information regarding our robust service offerings and competitive pricing. You can also find information on our city-wide build-out plan and sign-up for updates. We look forward to serving Lafayette.

Sincerely,
Your LUS Fiber Team

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

"LUS Fiber delays start" (Updated)

LUS has missed its deadline to serve the first customers in January of this year. They point to uncompleted contracts for cable channels as the reason for the delay—contracts LUS has signed but the folks that control the channel packages have not returned. All the recent coverage has hinted at such a delay: Huval has said for at least a month or six weeks that the only thing standing in the way of a launch was those contracts.

-----------
As to the story and the situation: Arrrgh. Let's start with the headline.

"LUS Fiber delays start"? Start? Really? How 'bout "LUS Fiber delay starts"? *(See update below) See what a difference the accurate placement of a single letter can make? I've complained endlessly and without effect about the tendency to sensationalize in the Advertiser so I won't belabor the point today. Just note that it's not a new frustration. I'll also take the opportunity to renew the plaint that the Adverstiser not ignore what has really delayed this project for years: the unremitting opposition of the incumbent providers: AT&T and Cox. As story about "delays" that carefully doesn't mention the source of years of delay is simply suspect reporting.

Ok, glad to get that off my chest. Still, there's a bit more complaining to do. :-)

The story does report on a real question that does need to be covered. The only thing worse than sensationalism would be to not cover it at all: LUS has missed its self-imposed deadline to serve the first customers by January of this year. And it let that date pass without making a public announcement in advance of the event. That's just not good public relations—or marketing. Better, much better, would be to hold a press conference lay it all out explicitly and to put it in the context of a huge project the people have been patiently waiting for — and a minor delay in comparison to the other painful delays that have occured as a consequence of outside interference. Get ahead of this sort of thing is the advice I would have given. My honest hope is that LUS intended announce this at last Tuesday's Council meeting—but if so I think they were mistaken to have honored the council's request to put it off. Granted the Council was right about their agenda and that did turn out to be an ungoodly long meeting. But LUS and the administration would have been smart to have asked for 5 minutes of the council's indulgence for a quick update that covered the change in plans if they could not stomach a full press conference. I strongly suspect that we will hear about it tonight's council meeting...I do expect that LUS will send out those promised blue announcement cards as soon as possible; possibly even this week. But the PR mistake will linger.
---------------

Beyond my frustrated complaint about the way the Adverstiser and LUS have handled this affair there is likely a really interesting story to tell. Or several. Which contracts with national providers have not completed signing? (We know the ones with local stations are done—including one that ended up in an FCC complaint.) What factors are playing into the decision to not launch with an incomplete linup? What is the source of the dispute? Was there another way to handle these contracts? Any one of these would make a useful story.

The question of which providers have neglected to return signed contracts might be interesting because we know that some packages are actually owned by incumbent cable providers who might well think it useful to embarass a standard bearer for municipal broadband. For instance, Time-Warner includes among its subdiaries major cable provider Time-Warner Cable as well as a huge set of cable channel packages including HBO, Turner Broadcasting (TMC), WB, CNN, and the Cartoon network. Comcast owns Cox owns the Travel channel. It's not a big stretch to think the cable companies might find this an easy tactic to use: Comcast, for instance, is famous for using its control of various sporting channels and contracts to its advantage in larger contract negotiations.

Why not just launch without the last few channels? You could always give a price break/rebate on the portion of the final package that customers don't get. The factors that are in play in deciding to delay the launch, and bear the cost of bad publicity, must include the so-called "Fair Competion" Act that the incumbents initially wrote and the legislature finally passed. The purpose of the act was far from "fair competition," instead it consists of a series of restrictions that apply only to the publicly-owned competition. (Only LUS in our state.) One of the elements in that law starts a time clock with dire consequences for LUS if it doesn't make a paper profit by a particular date. So any slow start imposes penalties by law...LUS needs to start off fast, and could easily conclude that not having the channel lineup complete would lead people to take a "wait and see" stance—not something they can afford to encourage.

If there are contracts outstanding one has to think that there have been disputes over carriage terms. LUS has apparently not just accepted anything that they are offered and have tried to hold out for good terms. The most obvious reason to hold out might well be simple cost: there is some push and pull on cost and providers naturally want to get as much as possible for their product and could well think that LUS doesn't have as much to bargin with as the monster companies like Cox or Comcast. But there may well be more subtle and even more disturbing possibilities. We here in Lafayette think its a great thing to get a 100 meg intranet and set-top boxes with even limited internet capacity. But content providers in this country are well known for their at-times irrational response to the rapidly growing dominance of the internet and all digital media. They've been noticeably antsy about IPTV (Internet Protocal TV as opposed to RF-based cable) and I've heard that the mention of opening the settop boxes through which "their" media flows to the evil internet for digital divide reasons causes them some irrational spasms. Trying to step in and dictate local policy as to who does and does not get internet access under the guise of protecting their interests would be all too in-character for an industry everyone has learned to disdain. (Video owners would be wise to learn from the painful experience of the music industry.—Standing in front of the engine of change and trying to slow it down only gets you run over.)

Finally, LUS initially intended to join a coop to get its programming and probably could do so in the future. But at the moment they became set on trying to write their own contracts that window was closed by an odd set of events that temporarily closed the coop to new membership. I'd heard that they'd actually managed to secure some improved deals on the contracts they were able to close early on...but that may not have proven a consistent consequence. They may eventually decide to backout and take advantage of the coop offerings in some cases—contracts that might be cheaper or have fewer use restrictions. This is a murky area, but like I said, an interesting one to follow-up on.


Laigniappe: There's also a story on the line cuts that have followed digging up a big chunk of the city. While any breaks in service, and especially gas breaks, are disturbing they are also inevitable as the utility digs up a huge chunk of the city.

Update 12:42 am 2/4: My wife suggests another interpretation of the headline "LUS Fiber delays start" that points out that "delays start" is ambiguous it could mean that the delays are beginning (what I took umbrage at) or that the startup is delayed (a fair depiction). The first she primly informs reads delay as a noun and starts as a verb while the latter reads delays as a verb and starts as a noun. She's the grammarian. My best guess is that the misinterpretation is mine and the headline poorly written but not mean-spirited. Mea culpa. (She now leans over and insists I say that she brought in the paper and supplied the initial interpretation. True enough...but I wrote it up without noticing anything else. Partners. :-) )