Friday, September 25, 2009

WBS: Lafayette as the Example

Glenn Fleishman has an article up that mentions Lafayette as the premier example of a city that has built a network in order to bring advanced technology to all its citizens:

In Lafayette, Louisiana, the city fought a multi-year battle against incumbent providers for the right to build its own fiber network. It won, and the FTTH network went live for the first phrase of the city–with about a fifth the households of Seattle–in February.

The reason for the fight wasn’t about the right to 500 channels, about low prices, or about the city wanting a piece of the action. It was about the city’s desire to have 21st century technology in place reaching every person, company, and institution. (emphasis mine)

The context is Seattle's mayoral race; the candidate who came out of the primary in first place, McGinn, has made providing a city-owned FTTH network a major plank in his campaign for office.

Fleishman's point is a good one: The real reason for building a community-owned communications utility is to gain control of your future and to directly benefit the citizen-owners of the new utility and their community. Other oft-mentioned rationales, from fancy services, to the benefit for businesses is derivative of that motive and not the main rationale.

It's a good thing to have our real motives recognized by someone outside the city—and nice that the real meaning of the victory in Lafayette is being learned.

Monday, September 21, 2009

OneWebDay Celebration in Lafayette @ LITE, and via Webcast

Tommorrow—September 22nd—is "One Web Day" and it will be celebrated in grand style here in Lafayette. One Web Day celebrates the power of internet connectivity and will be observed in cities throughout the world. From the national press release:
OneWebDay was founded in 2006 as an all-volunteer campaign to build a constituency for the Internet in the United States and around the world. Originally imagined as a celebration of the World Wide Web - the services and content the Internet carries - OneWebDay has grown into a movement of organizations, citizens and consumers who are committed to universal and equal access to the Internet. Now in its fourth year, OneWebDay has a full-time Executive Director, powerful new partners and will see events in 50 cities across the globe.
Given that drive toward "universal and equal access" it is no surprise that Lafayette has one of the marquee events, and given the local joie de vie, no surprise that it involves some fun:
In the U.S., 9/22 events include: a documentary and discussion on copyright in Milwaukee; a broadband policy panel Washington, DC; a New York City rally with an Iranian political activist; elected officials and a Cajun band in Lafayette; a forum with Mitch Kapor in Berkeley; a Philadelphia panel on that city's broadband grant.
The release goes on to quote internet sage Mitch Kapor as saying in reference to this year's theme:
"Ultimately, we want to ensure that anyone who wants it has access to the Internet and, importantly, the skills they need to fully participate. The ability to access and use a fast, affordable, and open Internet is essential for every student, every entrepreneur, and every citizen who wants full access to our government and the democratic process," said Kapor.
That's the serious purpose...Ah, but the local fun...what of that? —From the local press release:
Lafayette, LA – On September 22nd as the world honors OneWebDay, Lafayette, LA will step up to add its voice to the chorus of gatherings across the country and around the globe with an event of its own, a celebration of Lafayette's connectivity, culture, community, and innovative spirit.

This event will take place at the LITE Center, starting at 5:30pm with a reception in the lobby that will include free beer and wine, and continuing on from 6-7:30pm with a multimedia program in the main auditorium.

This program will feature a series of speakers talking about Lafayette's commitment to becoming a hub city for broadband innovation, including City-Parish President Joey Durel, LUS Director Terry Huval, UL President Dr. Savoie, UL Provost Steve Landry, AoIT director Kit Becnel, LEDA Chairman Tom Cox, LITE CEO Henry Florsheim, Firefly Digital owner Mike Spears, and local big thinker John St. Julien.

In addition to the speakers, this event will feature a live Cajun band that will help showcase Lafayette's rich culture.

The event will also be webcast out onto the Internet for the world to tune into to get a better idea of the exciting things happening in America's most wired and inspired community. Tune in to learn about Lafayette's cutting edge full fiber network, its commitment to establishing models for the next generation of education, and to supporting the development of 21st century businesses.

To watch the webcast, go to www.aocinc.org at 6pm Central on Sept 22nd.

Ok, I admit to being embarassed by this big thinker thing—but that's what you get for practicing the trade without a real title...on the other hand everyone should be reassured to note that I know for a fact that the speakers have been sternly told to keep their remarks to five minutes—so nobody will have to put up with much of it.

More seriously, it's great to see such broad local support for the ideals expressed by the OneWebDay Coalition; it is a set of ideas well worth supporting.

Come and celebrate the fun! Preferably in person, but if disability of location keeps you from making it please grab the webcast from AOC.

Update 9/25/09: The webcast of the event is up for "asynchronous" viewing at AOC's UStream account and interested readers might want to review the Advocate's coverage.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Testing. Testing. 1, 2, 3.

Back in January, I posted here about how I my Internet connection (then with Cox) spent New Year's Day making three attempts to upload a 1.69 gigabyte Quicktime file to an email transfer site and to a website via FTP.

The future arrived at our house this past week in the form of LUS Fiber and, as luck would have it, I was finishing up on a project that (at its core) contained that same Quicktime movie, only now in larger format. In fact, it was now in DVD format and saved as disk images in both DMG and ISO formats (Mac and Windows compatible, respectively).

The DMG file was 4.29 gigs. The ISO file, 4.42 gigs.

The project called for both disc images to be uploaded to a site for later download by users.

So, let's look at the math for a second. The files are about 2.5 times larger than the January Quicktime movie only I now had to upload both of them to a site.

In January, over Cox, it took nearly five hours to upload a single, smaller file to the same server via FTP that I was going to use for this project.

But, now I have the 50 mbps LUS Fiber package, instead of the Cox package which was advertised as being about 4 mbps.

So, I cranked up the FTP server (I use Fetch), connected to the server and began the uploading of the first file.

It took about an hour and ten minutes, give or take a few minutes. The second file was completed in about the same amount of time.

So, files 2.5 times larger uploaded in a quarter of the time it took to upload in January.

Is that a 10x improvement in speed? Looks that way to me, but maybe someone else will do the actual calculations to confirm that estimate.

On Facebook the other night, I announced that I had gotten my LUS connection and there were some questions as to what were the actual speeds I was getting out on the Internet itself, not just the LUS network.

I had not had a chance to do any testing at the time, but managed to do some tonight. The results are pretty impressive.

Here are the download and upload speeds by test site with server location included where possible (all speeds megabits per second:

Speakeasy Speed Test (Dallas server): Download — 30 mbps; Upload — 11 mbps. (Late Monday Update : I neglected to mention in the initial post that the LUS Fiber connection 'pegged' the download speed at Speakeasy. That is, 30 mbps was the maximum download speed the site would register, and LUS nailed the maximum speed.)
TDS Utilities/Broadband DSL Reports (Atlanta server): Download — 19.575 mbps; Upload — 10.793 mbps.
XMission Speed Test: Download — 29.73 mbps; Upload — 11.09 mbps.
Texas A&M Network Speed Test: Download 30.237 mbps; Upload — 9.3 mbps.
SpeedMatters.org: Download — 19.090 mbps; Upload — 11.769 mbps.
AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet Throughput Test (Houston server): Download — 18.047; Upload — 12.024.
Argonne National Laboratory: Download — 21.28 mbps; Upload — 10.48 mbps.
Carnegie Mellon Network Group Network Speed Testing Service (Pittsburgh) Download — 10.2 mbps; Upload — 10.2 mbps.
Vonage Internet Speed Test: Download — 19.416 mbps; Upload — 8.642 mbps.
Verizon FIOS Speed Test (Central US Region): Download — 23.692 mbps; Upload — 11.491 mbps.

As you may know, the speed of a network is only as fast as the slowest connection that traffic must pass through. So, out on the public Internet speeds will vary based on the route between you and the server you are connecting to.

I also need to point out that I can't remember hitting even one mbps upload speeds on Cox more than once or twice. Those speeds seemed to always register in the Kilobits per second (kbps) speed range.

All I can say is I uploaded a lot more data in a lot less time this weekend. And I enjoyed the hell out of it!

P.S. I also like the fact that we got ALL the cable movie channels, plus HD channels for less that we were paying for HBO and the digital tier on Cox.

Thanks to the good people of this community who, four years and many lawsuits ago, decided that we wanted to control our own digital destiny and approved the building of this network.

I've only been on the network since Wednesday and it has met or surpassed every expectation I had of it.

We are at the front of the line on the digital revolution. Let's get to work putting this power to work improving out community!