Monday, August 18, 2014

What he said....'bout Net Neutrality as a Public Utility Value

Harold Feld of Piublic Knowledge and "Tales of the Sausage Factory" posts a reflection on of a very interesting big data analysis of the 1.1 million comments so far made on the FCC's request that the public weigh in on potential net neutrality regulations.

Feld incisively points to the unprecedented degree to which Americans are engaged with this issue, the personal way they tie this to fundamental civic values, and the sheer amount of individual thought put into this matter. The money quote:
More broadly, when we look at these sentiments, we see a lot of support for the idea of broadband as a public utility – by which I mean a basic service so essential to participation in modern society that we do not simply leave it to the kindness of kings, the benevolence of corporate barons, or the indifference of the unfettered market. We don’t speak of access to consumer goods or most services as essential to the American Dream and tied into values of fundamental fairness. We reserve that kind of language for a very small number of services like water, electricity and other very basic and fundamental things. That people now add “broadband access” to this short list of services that should reflect our values is quite telling.
When we say that access to the net should be a "utility" it isn't, not by any means, a reference to simply a preferred economic model. It is about equitable access for all, access that is not controlled by some consortia of big guys.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

LUS Fiber adds children's French channel

KATC reports that LUS Fiber has added a new french language channel aimed at young children, TiVi5MONDE Kids—at channel 105 in the "Digital Plus" tier.
The inclusion of a children's channel in French is an acknowledgment of the francophone region's Cajun and Creole heritage. Terry Huval, himself a noted Cajun fiddle player, notes in the press release:
"It's important to encourage youth to embrace our French heritage...This is why LUS Fiber sought out to be one of the first cable companies to host this channel."
Beyond just the nod to the region's french heritage in a community where about 13% of the population tell census takers that they speak French in the home, the new channel will also have a special relationship with the parish's public school system. Lafayette has two French immersion schools in its "Schools of Choice" program—at Evangeline and Myrtle Place Elementary—where instruction is primarily in French.
LUS Fiber officials say that, along with the family-friendly programming, TiVi5MONDE Kids will offer free lesson plans to teachers. Included within the agreement struck by LUS Fiber, TiVi5MONDE Kids will train local teachers how to incorporate the network and free online tools into their classroom education plans...
However, programming will not solely be targeted to French Immersion students, but teachers and parents as well, LUS Fiber explains in a release. The release says that channel will act as an exciting tool to compliment traditional foreign language education covering the basic linguistic skills - reading, writing, speaking and listening. 
French programming has also been a issue in the ongoing competition between Cox and LUS Fiber both before LUS Fiber launched and after. While LUS Fiber was still building Cox got called in on the carpet by the Council to "explain" yanking the weather channel and French programming from the basic tier during the period when Lafayette was merged into the greater Louisiana. Later it attempted to make an advertising pitch about its having TV5—without noting that it was packaged into the high-priced tier while LUS Fiber kept in on the basis channel setup.

Which brings up a discomfiting point: LUS no longer carries TV5 on the inexpensive, no frills, no box it too has moved TV5 to the higher, box-required tier. Even more: TiVi5 Monde Kids is on an upper, yet more expensive tier. That's not good for the young families the channel would most benefit. That's part of a drift towards doing everything as if LUS were a standard cable company. It's a disappointment. Sure Cox has, in the interim treated the natives even worse, having moved TV5 to its most expensive "regular" channel tier with a buncha sports channels Tante Sue is not likely to care about. Still if there is any place where we should be able to buck the pattern and act in favor of community, ethnicity, and history it should be here. It's worrisome that it's not. LUS seems to have lost track of the idea that it needs to differentiate itself from "business as usual" coporatism.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

"LUS Fiber inks SEC"

Hey, LUS Fiber has signed up for the new SEC channel. This is actually a big deal; getting the local sports networks is huge deal to a good portion of the subscriber base. A portion that is willing to pay for privilege, incidentally.

LUS Director Huval underlines this point when he says:
"I would like to personally thank the individuals who took the time to let us know how important it was that we carry this channel. We take customer feedback seriously and appreciate the opportunity to better serve the City of Lafayette.”
Even purist tech geeks and gigabit hipsters oughta care: local sports networks are crucial to the survival of smaller independent systems like LUS Fiber and all too often the big guys (AKA: Cox) manage to influence local sports networks to make life difficult for the small guys.

But LUS' LSU sports fiends will be able to get their fix through the hometown network. As a three time graduate of LSU that spent his freshman year in the grungy dorms beneath Tiger Stadium I might even pony up myself.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Mea Culpa. Mea Maxima Culpa

It's my fault; the whole big thing is my fault.

This blog has been offline for several months; mostly because I got my signals seriously crossed on some minor technical issues between Google's blogger, my web space provider, and my domain name holder. And, yeah, family issues and other civic commitments that seemed to be more pressing at any moment kept me too distracted to see how easy the fix was. It shouldn't have gone on so long.

I apologize.

But I'm back. Lafayette Pro Fiber is back and I've been faithfully plopping story ideas into the hopper as they've come up in my news stream. Those that seem to still be relevant will see new life on these pages.

Watch this space. (Again)

Abjectly yours, John

Update 8/7/14: Ok, the blog went down again and getting it back up seems to have revealed the basic issue...I am no longer so abject: the apparent reason that I've had trouble getting the blog up was that Google scans for disparities in its record of you DNS number (the actual, numerical, address) and if it doesn't match takes down your blog. My webspace provider had forced a move to a new server and so that address had changed. Google gives NO notice to your registered account email, no flag on your control board, no hint in any instructions (and I read several conflicting versions of how to do all this in Google's internally incoherent "help" files) that verification, which takes place implicitly when you first register you personal domain, is ever an issue.  The same settings which worked yesterday suddenly don't work any longer with not only no warning but with no hint that Google has done anything. Since the only changes that happened recently were at the web provider the evidence pointed to them even though the blog stayed up for at least a week after that change. I only found the issue by futzing with settings I knew were right that were buried several levels off this blog's particular account. I successfully changed those correct settings. And only then did I get a follow-up flag that verification had failed. Had I not kept that window open, but closed it immediately upon success I don't believe I'd have ever seen flag. That flag lead to a link, which in turn lead to another link which in turn described an arcane procedure of messing with the TXT field of the domain name provider and goosing Google to force another verification. I did so and after anxious waiting the blog came back...again.

Yes, I'm profoundly irritated.