Friday, August 20, 2010

Worth the Listen—Net Neutrality

Ok, here's something for those of you that are aural learners or just like a good rousing speech...The FCC hearings in Minnesota on Net Neutrality.



Franken starts @ 17 minutes
Copps begins @ 31 minutes
Clyburn @ 55 minutes
Chris Mitchell @ 72 minutes


This one's been making the rounds of the internet...you may well have heard remarks about Senator Franken' speech or raves about FCC Commissioner Copps' (An FCC commissioner got a standing ovation? Really!? Really... And deserved it. ) Both of those are well worth the time spent listening. Franken has lost none of his wry, dry wit in the transition to Senator and who knew that any nerdish regulator had the capacity to give a stem-winder like Copps did? The freshman on the FCC team, newly appointed Mignon Clyburn turned in a journeyman piece of work as well.

But the hidden gem is in the follow-up to the headliners. Don't miss Chris Mitchell—friend of Lafayette and all-round advocate of community-owned networks—get in his licks. He makes his points—that regulation is a necessary check on the self-interest of corporations, that the FCC's role is to regulate in the public, not the private interest, and that all communities should be allowed to own their own networks. The FCC has the authority to do all this and should, he avers. In the process he cites Lafayette for being a model of non-partisan, local decision-making and the best-value network in the United States. "...Lafayette, operates the absolute best broadband network, as measured by value; for less than 30 dollars a month anyone can get a 10 gigabit connection. Symmetrical....in St. Paul I have to pay 3 times that much to get anything like that upload."

Of course, not all of us are willing to slow down and listen to an actual speech. Ars Technica has a very readable overview of the major players that includes the money qoutes from both Franken and Copps: "I believe that net neutrality is the First Amendment issue of our time," from Franken and "I suppose you can't blame companies for seeking to protect their own interests, but you can blame policy makers if we let them get away with it" brought down the house for Copps." Clyburn made it crystal clear that she, like Copps, won't stand for separating wireless data services from the internet. So, early in the game, two of the 5 FCC commissioners have made it clear that the Google-Verizion deal won't get past their desk—and that's amazingly good news.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Championing Fiber—And Our Advantage

1012 Corridor, a regional business mag run by Baton Rouge's Business Report has a rather late recap of the April Fiber Fete here in Lafayette. The news, such as it is, centers around the revelation that the organizers are now characterizing it as the "first annual" fiber fete and that an ancillary group "FiberCorps" is being formed that ogranizer Daily says is:
 “an entity that can coordinate the people and resources of Lafayette to work toward the common goal of being the Hub City for fiber-powered innovation.”
The story closes with a worth-repeating quote that emphasized maintaining the momentum Lafayette has now:
“Right now, Lafayette has the attention of the outside world, and I think a good goal would be, by the start of next year, to have made a whole lot of progress.”
The question is: What sort of progress?

It'd be good to see a second event and good to see a community support organization—though I have to say that one that supports only for-profit business forms of "innovation" would be show a massive lack of imagination about what is possible for a community-owned fiber network. The real value, the unique value, of a powerful, affordable network that runs past every home and corner grocery lies in those many homes and micro businesses. We'd be smart to compete in areas in which we have a clear and sustainable advantage—and not for businesses that could be developed in any decently-appointed business park in this country. I've no objection to devoting some resources to big blue-sky business projects and even more energy to encouraging private investment in private businesses that utilize our resources. But I do think that the real value lies in the fact that we are well on our way to providing the resources of that enable a top-notch business park to even the least well-appointed neighborhood in our city. Why not build the sorts of resources on top of our network that you see in those "incubators?" Big bandwidth is a nice start. Community WiFi at full speed? Shared supercomputing resources? Shared storage? A streaming video server? A server with free cloud services like Google's Apps?

What would a community look like if it didn't take thousands and thousands of dollars to use the tools that are now restricted to large businesses and college campus but would instead be available to all for a cheap, shared price?

Nobody knows, of course. But then again almost nobody else has the basic resource of a community network upon which to build these new sorts of community infrastructure.

But we do.

And that is our advantage.

LUS Fiber Commercial Released

The draft video I reviewed on July 27th has been released unchanged by Joey Durel into general circulation. I think it is safe to assume that this is the version that will soon be showing up on local TV sets. You can now see it on the lafayettela.gov site.

I hope we'll start seeing the ad, and the the campaign for which it sets the tone, soon. This should be the start of the promised major media advertising push.