Wednesday, February 01, 2012

"Louisiana city blazes high-speed Web trail"

What's Being Said Dept.

Lafayette garners national coverage for its home-grown fiber optic network in the USAToday story titled: "Louisiana city blazes high-speed Web trail." The lead-in sets the tone:

In this tradition-rich city known for its crawfish etouffee and Zydeco stomps, high-speed Internet rules. Web videos upload in a few quick seconds. Surgeons review online pathology reports from their living rooms. University students share bulky research files with one another electronically at lightning speeds.
There's a brief version of the history from the early fiber ring through the fiber referendum, the legal battles, and Cox's price-slashing Lafayette-only "specials," missing only the yet-to-be completed story of Cox's obstructionism at the NCTC and its debuting its advanced DOCSIS 3 50 meg service in Lafayette in telling the tale of the unrelenting attempt to suppress the powerful local network. It's good to see the nation noticing the advantages of treating last mile networks as community utilities and the role such networks can play nationally:

Once a broadband leader, the USA has slipped to 15th ... according to the percentage of households and businesses using broadband, falling behind Finland, France, Canada and other countries. The USA's "duopoly problem" — 96% of households have access to two or fewer broadband service providers — has contributed to the slide in ranking, according to the Federal Communications Commission. In its National Broadband Plan, the FCC urges Congress to clarify federal rules allowing state and local governments to provide broadband service.
Local tech-enabled businesses are also touted—from Pixel Magic, to Skyscraper Holdings (from whom any LUS subscriber can get fiber-fast free off-site backup), to the Gastroenterology Clinic of Acadiana. For example: 
Scott Eric Olivier moved his tech startup firm, Skyscraper Holding, from Los Angeles to Lafayette when he heard of the speeds and service offered by LUS Fiber. The same connectivity of 100 megabytes per second [sic "bits"Mbps], which allows him to move large files across the Web for clients, would cost him several thousand dollars a month on the West Coast, he says. In Lafayette, he pays $200 a month. Another plus: He's getting what he paid for — exactly 100 megabytes per second [sic] — while his previous provider rarely delivered the promised speeds, Olivier says.
But that's all a nice repackaging of bits and pieces the locals already know. There is a bit of real news for the local reader. Huval reveals that LUS fiber has nearly reached the point where it is serving 1/3 of Lafayette. That great news; in the long run nothing is more important than market penetration and at 1/3 of the market LUS is assured of having the numbers that will allow it to succeed long-term. Any other problem is temporary and relatively easily dealt with; even better, at that level of market share Cox and AT&T have to treat LUS seriously or risk losing the entire market. They have no choice but to compete on price substantially extending the benefit of Lafayette's fiber to the whole community:
LUS Fiber has captured nearly one-third of the city's 45,000 residential and business subscribers, and more are steadily joining each month, Huval says. To compete, Cox has slashed its rates for some residents and business customers, lowering TV and Internet bills across the city, he says.
Go take a peek for yourself. ( Don't wait for tomorrow's paper; there's no guarantee that this national Gannett story will make the local Gannett paper. The last big USAToday article and the dramatic follow up editorial endorsement of Lafayette's network in its battle to win the right to exist only got a single, buried sentence of coverage.)


Anonymous said...

Your facts are wrong! LUS Fiber offers 100 Mbps. Megabits not Megabytes.

John said...

Anono, you are right and I missed it originally..but the error is in the USAToday text that I am quoting and I don't feel free to just change their text. I have now gone back in and placed an explanatory "sic" in the appropriate place.

Anonymous said...

Skyscraper Holding is no longer in business. Scott shut the office doors in Februrary. The backup product was a bust. After all the trouble of getting LUS fiber involved he ran out of investment money and moved back to LA.