Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Correcting Community Fiber Fallacies: The Reality of Lafayette’s Gigabit Network | Institute for Local Self-Reliance

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) a major player on the broadband scene nationally through is MuniNetworks division has published an extensive rebuttal to Steven Titch's latest in a long line of  screeds attacking Lafayette and LUS Fiber.

MuniNetworks has produced a brutal line by line, point by point rebuttal of Titch's paper. It is really quite  amazing & I recommend it highly: Correcting Community Fiber Fallacies: The Reality of Lafayette’s Gigabit Network

(If you'd like to amuse yourself you can walk through LafayetteProFiber's extensive coverage of Titch's shenanigans. I recommend starting at the bottom with the first post on Titch and reading toward the present; it makes quite a narrative.)

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

FCC Head Lauds Lafayette's Fight

Lafayette's battle to win the right to serve itself with the most powerful technologies has made it back into the national debate. Our fight, and the success of LUS Fiber has been cited by the head of the FCC as he drops hints as to how his regulations might eventually enable other cities to follow Lafayette's lead. The FCC has the power to forbid laws that operate to stifle competition; historically that power has been used to outlaw state laws that hurt competition. Arguably, quite arguably, it extends to forbidding laws that restrain the abilities of local towns and cities to compete with telecommunications corporations. Two cities with fiber-based telecommunications utilities have petitioned the FCC to do just that and rule-making hearings are being planned. This is a big deal.

In our arcane system of governance the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, which sounds like some inconsequential federal bureau is actually an extremely important center of power. With the similarly innocuously named FTC the two commissions are the two major levers which the federal government has for ensuring competition and the free flow information. In recent years the FCC has been, to put it kindly, ineffectual not for lack of power but for lack of will to oppose the large corporations that dominate the media landscape. That may be changing FCC chair Tom Wheeler has been edging toward both a real net neutrality position and toward using the FCC statutory power to forbid competition-killing laws in many state—including Louisiana—which effectively block local communities from competing with the few national corporations that have an oligopolistic hold on the communications industry.

Wheeler, speaking before NATOA, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, offered hints that he'd be willing to push harder on freeing local communities to do what we've done here in Lafayette. From the remarks (emphases mine):

As you know, two communities – Wilson, NC and Chattanooga, TN – have petitioned the FCC to preempt the laws enacted by state legislatures that prohibit them from expanding their community-owned broadband networks. There are currently laws in 19 states that impose restrictions of one kind of another on such local decision-making. 
We will make our decision on those petitions on the record and on the merits. I am not going to comment on them any further. 
However, I do encourage you to consider how local choice and competition can increase the broadband opportunities for your citizens. I love the story of Lafayette, Louisiana where the local incumbent fought the city’s fiber network tooth and nail, bringing multiple court challenges and triggering a local referendum on the project. Thankfully, none of the challenges managed to prevent deployment – sixty- two percent of voters approved of the network in the referendum, and the Louisiana Supreme Court unanimously sided with the city – but they did delay deployment almost three years. When the network was finally built, the community experienced the benefits of competition, as the local cable operator decided to upgrade its network. Local choice and competition are about as American as you can get. 
Those American principles can play an important and essential role in assuring America’s future. 
Here's to hoping our experience helps influence the nation's policy toward allowing communities to find their own way forward without relying on the favors dispensed by corporations with no interest in our towns and cities beyond the profit they turn. I just wish Lafayette's name was on that petition as well beside Wilson and Chattanooga's.

"Three New Companies Move to the Silicon Bayou"

Community Broadband Networks covers the addition of yet another hi-tech company to Lafayette further validating the community's decision to invest in LUS Fiber. From Durel's official statement:

“These are exciting times for Lafayette and Acadiana,” Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel said. “With the announcements of Bell Helicopter, Enquero, CGI and now Perficient, we have proven that Lafayette and Louisiana can compete for world-class companies. These companies are proof that investing in the right infrastructure pays dividends for our citizens.”
CBN comments:
In the past few months, Lafayette has drawn in three high tech companies that will create approximately 1,300 well-paying positions. In addition to the community's commitment to boost its high-tech workforce, better connectivity offered by LUS Fiber helped attract the new businesses.  

Just to be very explicit—good international corporations value communities that show the same sort of entrepreneurial spirit that they posses. And it's good business as well. Locating in the city carries along with it access to some of the cheapest hi-speed bandwidth available anywhere in the country. Lafayette carries a final even rarer quality: it offers 1 gig of intranet connectivity to every home or business location in the city at no extra cost. If an employee has the standard service from LUS they can connect to their company at a blazing 1 gig speed. Most companies maintain a wired 1 gig intranet inside their corporate offices connecting their most critical computers. In Lafayette every employee could connect to the home office with same effectiveness as if they were just down the hall. Need a satellite office  for a big job? No problem; just rent any space. Great bandwidth is a utility in Lafayette. Not something that requires complicated setup and corporate time and energy. Work at home with no penalty. Save all your files, however massive, to the company server. Work off server-based programs as easily as folks in the central office. The flexibility is something you simply can't buy elsewhere.

Nice indeed.