Thursday, September 15, 2011

EATel's fiber to move into Baton Rouge

EATel, East Ascension's locally-owned fiber-based telecoms provider, is set to move into the Baton Rouge market and provide Cox & AT&T some real competition. This would be a tremendous change in that market, especially if the local provider was prepared to build-out beyond the sort of limited cherry-picking that Baton Rouge has seen from AT&T's "entry." It is conceivable that parts of Baton Rouge could actually have 3 providers for the full range of telecom services. That's virtually unheard of.

According to the Baton Rouge Business Report EATel is anxious to get things going and objected to any further delay in granting its franchise citing in part the age of the owner:
"I will be here next time, and I will continue to come until we get the franchise. We're a family company. Our owner is 84 years old," Britton said, to which Addison replied, "You can tell your 84-year-old owner that you'll get it."
The Business Report story is misleading in at least one respect: it talks about EATel bringing "broadband" competition without mention of either the phone or the video aspects of the service. A quick read of the council agenda item in question reveals that a good bit more is at stake: 
Authorizing the Mayor-President to enter into an agreement with Eatel Video, L.L.C. d/b/a Eatel, to offer multi-protocol broadband platform of voice, data and video/television services ("broadband network"), the video/television component of which is a multi-protocol, two-way interactive, ip-enabled video/television service in the City of Baton Rouge and Parish of East Baton Rouge. By: Parish Attorney.
We're talking voice, data, and video...the full triple play.

I'll look forward to hearing the details; it'd be a pity if EATel's intent was more modest than I am assuming. The company is in of East Ascension south of East Baton Rouge and in Livingston in areas southeast of parish. So it has built up networks in striking range of southern East Baton Rouge Parish. The extent of the build is unknown but it may be worth noting that the Councilman whose concern about FCC regulations appears to have derailed immediate approval represents district 2 in the historically poorer, blacker area of northwest
Baton Rouge. If his concern is that his constituents might not see much benefit from the competition EATel brings that is probably reasonably founded on how little the highly touted "competition" from AT&T reached his constituents.