Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fiber Recommended

So I’m watching BBC last night and here’s this story on a fella on some rural farm in Japan and he is bragging about his 50 Mbps broadband speed and how he has more time for fishing because he no longer has to commute and can service all his clients from home and it sent me right into a self-righteous diatribe about how crappy broadband service is here in the US. Then to pour lemon juice into the wound comes another story about some people in Kenya who are laying fiber to all these villages and this chick sitting in Central Park telling us the WiFi is free but nobody in New York gets 50 Mbps unless they are willing to pay around $150 a month for it.

I thought my head was going to explode.

And it was only last week that I listened to a presentation by Terry Huval of the Lafayette Utilities System on how Lafayette took things into their own hands and built their fiber ring because they knew if they waited for Cox or any other provider to do it right they might as well wait for pigs to fly.

So I can now get 1 Mbps upstream and 6 Mbps downstream for $45.95 a month from my local provider, who shall remain nameless but it starts with a C and ends with a T. And my fellow travelers in Lafayette get 10 Mbps up and down for $28.95 a month; 30 Mbps up and down for $44.95 a month; and 50 Mbps up and down for $57.95 a month. See Huval’s presentation here:

I hate those people in Lafayette.

They do have a history of being cranky. Seems in 1896 they decided to build their own electric and water system because they knew there was no way the utility providers would provide water and power any time too soon to what was an outback Cajun village. And they had to fight in the 1940’s to keep the big utility companies from taking over their system. Imagine the hubris of those people in Lafayette! It was déjà vu when they proposed to build their own fiber, and the public overwhelmingly approved the initiative, in 2005. The incumbent cable company that starts with a C and ends with an X, did everything to stop them, including taking a case all the way to the Louisiana Supreme Court. But Lafayette prevailed.

Laissez les Bon Temps Roulette!

Meanwhile the Federal Communications Commission just released a report called “Report on a Rural Broadband Strategy,” an excellent document that examines the issues of rural broadband, raises critical questions and provides potential models for how broadband can be deployed to rural and underserved America. However, in the section regarding government sponsorship or ownership was this:

“Although many have expressed concerns regarding the provision of government-sponsored or government-owned broadband services, raising questions about the appropriate role of government as a broadband service provider, the potential for market distortion, and the consequences of unfair competition…”

I would love to know who those “many” were. I would bet many of those many belong to an organization that starts with an N and ends with an A. The report goes on to say that 19 states have passed legislation dealing with municipal ownership of broadband that limit it or ban it all together. Meanwhile the Australian government has taken it on themselves to upgrade its infrastructure to deliver 100 Mbps to 90% of the homes and offices in the country. My guess is their telecom and cable lobby isn’t as efficient as it should be, maybe some of the boys on “K” Street could give them lessons.

The FCC report recommends that the state members of the Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Services “work to develop an inventory of resources, “best practices,” and success stories to inspire and motivate others to undertake the difficult but ultimately rewarding task of bringing broadband to rural communities across this nation.”

And I’d like to recommend the first place they start is by putting in a call to Terry Huval in Lafayette. He plays a mean fiddle by the way.

A good read on all the antics that went on (and still do) surrounding this project is the Lafayette Pro-Fiber Blog at

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