New Fiber Group Forming!

Lafayette Pro Fiber has been asked to announce that there is a new fiber group forming. Jon Fitzgerald is organizing the first meeting at Mellow Joy on Ambassador Caffery this coming Saturday at 10:00 am. The agenda is deliberately sparse and will be driven by the participants. Initial topic for the day: Why have a citizen’s group; What can we contribute? The participants will take it from there.

The basic idea, as we understand it, is to meet and discuss the potential offered by the modern, high-bandwidth fiber network that LUS is hoping to offer the citizens of Lafayette. What can be done with that kind of bandwidth? What opportunities are there for business, education, or the arts?

We are happy to announce the meeting–and hope that it will be one among many. There is a conversation that needs to be happening about what we can do with all that we hope is coming. There’s the old Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared. It has always been a good principle. And fiber should be fun to discuss and dream about. Not to mention that the coffee is good.

TJCrawdad Emerges Into the Light

TJCrawdad aka Tom Cantrell has emerged from behind his mask over at his Let the People Vote Blog. He hit several local blogs where folks have written about his shenanigans (LUSFTTH, Timshel, LafayetteProFiber) making comments in response to particular posts.

The most extensive discussion took place at Timshel where I had guest blogged a summary of the week’s fiber news and included material on Crawdad/Cantrell that I had posted at Lafayette Pro Fiber that week.

I am happy to see this out in the open. It had really irritated me that Cantrell so happily took potshots at folks who were trying to do their jobs while being shielded by the annonymity of blogger from any real consequence. Oh–he is absolutely right that I got his title wrong. I am not sure where that crept in but it’s my mistake.

I’ll make a few comments at the end but in all fairness you oughta get a chance to read what he says before I weigh in. Here is the exchange that took place in the comments:

Bonjour. Thanks for all of the recognition on your blog, but I must set the record straight. First, I am not a Vice President, I am but a lowly director, but thanks for the promotion. Second, all of the stuff in the profile is true. I was born in La Rochelle, France so I do love all things french, the Pelican Brief is among my favorite movies (I listed it because I thought it was apropos), etc… As for living in Lafayette, I’ve spent about as much time there since May as I have in Tyler… It’s my “home away from home.” There are no lies sorry to say. Finally, I agree with you completely on the silliness… That was my intent. If we were all a little sillier about this, we’d all be better served. I hope you’ve had as much fun with it as I have. With that, I bid you goodbye.

TJCrawdad | Email | Homepage | 09.28.04 – 2:06 pm | #

Ah, you know how it is. There are all these people who think a lie is a lie. They are sooo unfun to have around. They tend to think that the word “resident” has some particular meaning. It’s so irritating and unreasonable. They are the same annoying sort that tend to think that hiding behind a mask while you punch your legitimate opposition is, well, dishonest. You know, because they can’t punch back.

Such fun to take a little shot from the dark. Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge, Tee Hee….

If you don’t want folks to say ugly things about you then you could always try being open and aboveboard. You could say who you are on the blog and who pays for the bread on your the table. You could try not lying about being a neighbor of the folks you are speaking to. This wasn’t some quiet little blog where someone wanted to muse in anonymity. This blog was advertised around the clock on channel 14 for weeks. Its intent was to deceive.
John | Email | Homepage | 09.28.04 – 10:48 pm | #

Did you really watch channel 14 for weeks around the clock? That should win you some kind of record.

Let me be clear about something; I blog for those who are my friends and who ARE your neighbors and for whom you have so little regard. They are the Cox employees who don’t have the luxury of “blogging” like you do because they have real jobs. They work incredibly hard to try to provide quality services to their fellow residents. In the meantime, they have to listen to you and those of your ilk pontificate about things you know nothing about.

Tom Cantrell
a.k.a. TJCrawdad
TJCrawdad | Email | Homepage | 09.28.04 – 11:59 pm | #

Behind my “mask”, as you call it, are over a hundred decent residents of Lafayette that work for our company that you have no qualms about dissing if they dare to have an opinion and express it in the letters to the editor. Incidently, it is not “my mask”, it is “our mask”; I am our collective voice.

OK, I’ll come clean; I get paid by Cox Communications to tell our side of the story and to stick up for our folks – to give a voice to people you clearly distain.

Now it’s your turn; what are you in it for – glory, fame, money – your turn to come clean – and please don’t give me that technology of the future jazz – you don’t have a crystal ball and obviously you are no businessman.

Tom Cantrell
a.k.a. TJCrawdad
TJCrawdad | Email | Homepage | 09.29.04 – 12:00 am | #

Honest injun Mr. Cantrell? I’m in it for my community and my grandchildren. I doubt that is actually so hard to understand.

There are values beyond glory, fame, or money. They don’t appeal to everyone but they appeal to me.

I do appreciate your coming clean. Thanks.
John | Email | Homepage | 09.29.04 – 12:53 am | #

Mr. Cantrell says: “I get paid by Cox Communications to tell our side of the story.” Yes, and that is understandable. What I objected to and still object to is not simply saying that plainly. My guess is that he worries that saying so on his blog might impair his effectiveness–with the general population of Lafayette he hopes to sway and with the governmental officials that it is his day job to deal with. Secrecy is not an accident; it serves real, corporate purposes.

I don’t buy the idea that Cantrell imposes on his employees out when he says: “I am our collective voice.” I was a carpenter for nearly a decade and know what it’s like to sweat all afternoon in the July sun and come home with salt crusted in the creases of my t-shirt. My experience leads me to guess that this executive doesn’t speak for the linemen. If I were in their shoes I wouldn’t like it. Maybe I’m wrong. But this “I am our collective voice.” bit sounds awfully arrogant to me–and hardly gives him license to pretend to be a resident of Lafayette. For the record: I respect the folks who do the work and maintain the cable and internet connections that I use everyday. Its not hard to see they do a real job under tough conditions. I don’t always find it possible to respect their bosses.

Finally, it’s revealing to me that the possible motives for wanting a fiber network for Lafayette and fighting for it seem limited in Cantrell’s view to “glory, fame, money.” There is no glory, fame, or money in what I am doing on this website and no prospect of any. I am an educator–or at least that is what I have spent the largest part of my life doing. There was no glory, fame, or money in that either. My wife and I came back to Lafayette because we love Louisiana and our people and want to be with our children and grandchildren. I want the very best for Lafayette and those six small children. Nobody needs to pay me.

Why We Don’t Have Fiber to the Home

David Isenberg in his VON Magazine column, The Edge-Centric, lays out in a direct and readable form the reasons behind the US being stuck without a fiber to the home infrastructure. Isenberg blames incumbent self-interest (my favorite explanation) and the unhealthy willingness of our lawmakers to go along with their demands. —Isenberg makes the increasingly common point that:

FTTH is a political no-no in the US because the interests of incumbent telcos and cablecos inordinately drive public policy. FTTH eliminates the scarcity of connectivity that makes what telcos sell valuable. It’s even worse for the cablecos–TV over IP, which FTTH would make possible, would decimate the cablecos just as VoIP is gutting the telcos today. Terrence McGarty of the Merton Group says that today’s practical FTTH architectures destroy monopoly control. Telcos and cablecos, realizing this, have erected political barriers to FTTH; for example, the fiber exemption in the most recent FCC Triennial Review.

Regular readers of our site will not be surprised at that conclusion but what might further interest you is his reporting on the rapidly falling expense of installing fiber optic networks; a factor that makes fiber even more economically advantageous than it has been to date. Even factoring out the wrong-headed temptation to drop universal service in favor of easy bucks (which won’t tempt our utility) that’s great.

That the price of connecting homes has been dropping rapidly can be nothing but good news for our local utility.

Giant Sucking Sounds

America’s Network has a story that validates a major point we’ve been making here for a while: the Cox/BellSouth alliance against LUS is artificial and cannot last.

As this article points out, cable companies like Cox are poised to take major market share from incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) like BellSouth by rolling out internet-based telephony in the form of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

The LUS fiber project is something of a welcomed distraction for BellSouth. The fact is that Cox is about to take a huge bite out of BellSouth’s customer and revenue bases with this new initiative and, because BellSouth has no entertainment package and no network infrastructure robust enough to match the Cox offerings, they are going to be at a competitive disadvantage in south Louisiana for years to come.

That first giant sucking sound you hear will be Cox taking market share away from BellSouth. The second could be LUS doing the same to both of those companies once its system is up and running, and beyond the legal challenges which are as sure to come as the sun morning.

Six universities board high-tech superhighway

The LONI (Louisiana Optical Network Initiative) fiber optic network connecting state universities was recently promoted to the legislature as a potential engine of economic development according to an Advertiser article. Its nice to see folks talking about the benefits of fiber, even if it isn’t our own (yet).

Lafayette’s university, UL will be one of the chief beneficiaries of LONI and its connection to Lambda, the next generation high-speed internet testbed that will run through Louisiana. LONI will hook into Lambda in Baton Rouge and arc out to New Orleans with a loop around the rest of Louisiana that includes Lafayette. Part of what’s great about this is that by hooking directly into Lambda LONI users will be able to participate as peers in their interactions with the most prestisious schools in the nation. They will have as fast a connection as anyone—they will be equals in that important regard. Crucial to the success of LONI is the ability to push a huge amount of bandwidth. But to do that it is important not only that it be technically possible, it is also essential that it be affordable. Lots of bandwidth can be lots of expense. Technical feasibility is not enough. Lambda makes it affordable as well because there is no intermediary between the internet and user that charges a fortune to access the internet. LONI is like an interstate onramp–it allows users to get on the high speed, interconnected, essentially free, internet without driving on a toll road to get there.

Most of us are in the situation of paying for a toll road in order to access the free highway. But the LONI/Lambda connection cuts out the middleman. By relying entirely on themselves the universities and the state have created a system where no outsider has to be paid. Without that none of the universities could afford to use the nifty new system. And the best system would go unused or underutilized.

LONI and Lambda will light up some of that dark fiber running along I-10. But there is plenty more. You have to wonder if LUS can’t pick up on some of that mojo too; and cut a deal with the state to light up a bit more and pick up its own direct connection into a national backbone. Sure would save a bundle of money. And, like the LONI/Lambda system, it would mean that only local capacity, not external costs, would limit the amount of bandwidth that could be affordably made available to local users. Now that is an end to be devoutly wished.

Cingular Merger with AT&T Threatens Cingular Jobs — including those in Lafayette!

If you can, think back to those days of late spring/early summer, when BellSouth and Cox Communications were floundering about for effective arguments against the proposed LUS fiber to the premises project. (At last report, they were still floundering, but had given up on the effective arguments piece.)

If you can recall those early days of this struggle, you may recall that a sometimes whispered threat coming off the lips of the BellSouth folks was that the LUS project could somehow jeopardize the thousand or so jobs at the Cingular call center in Lafayette.

Those threats were subtle; something like, “gee, it would be terrible if something happened to those Cingular jobs if the company’s owners (BellSouth owns 40 percent of Cingular, while SBC owns 60 percent) no longer felt welcome here.”

Well, Monday’s New York Times confirms the bad news: Cingular’s call center jobs like those in Lafayette are, in fact, “in play.” But, the threat has nothing to do with LUS.

No, according to this New York Times story on the pending merger between Cingular Wireless and AT&T Wireless, those jobs are in play because of that merger itself.

A paragraph near the end of the story lays out the likely places where opportunities for ‘efficiencies’ may be found:

Given that Cingular and AT&T Wireless combined will have nearly 70,000 employees, analysts expect thousands of workers to be laid off. The first jobs to go may be the roughly 10,000 contract workers the two companies employ, including those technicians working remotely and operators at call centers. Staff reductions at the headquarters of both companies are also likely.

So, the BellSouth boys weren’t bluffing: those Cingular call center jobs may well be in jeopardy. The fact that they are in jeopardy due to the actions of the company itself — and not LUS — must have just been a little detail that somehow slipped the BellSouth machine’s attention.

Not that there was any intent to mislead or anything like that — honest! It was all just an innocent mistake! Right! And Saddam Hussein is still developing weapons of mass destruction.

Disinfo Alert: Echo Chamber

Disinformation Alert: Echo Chamber Strategy Emerges. We continue at Code: Yellow

The unlamented TJCrawdad has risen from the dead and is blogging his little brand of lies and innuendo yet again. TJCrawdad is better known by the name his momma gave him and his bosses at Cox call him by: Tom Cantrell and is vice president “governmental relations” at Cox.

This guy had been blogging as TJCrawdad and using the anonymity of Blogger to lie to folks about being a resident of Lafayette. I’ll bet dollars to donuts the rest of his all-too-cute blogger profile where he claims his favorite novel is “The Pelican Brief” and his favorite music is Zydeco and Cajun and his favorite authors are classic French novelists. (Victor Hugo and Alexander Dumas. Really?) is all lies too. Not only is this just disgusting it’s also arrogant and condescending. He thinks we are all rubes and will fall for the most transparent of lies.

Since TJCrawdad was exposed as Cantrell his blog had gone decently offline but today he returns with an innovation: the anonymous echo chamber. The still concealed Cox vice president quotes, with gleeful satisfaction a letter to the editor by an employee whose conspicuously leaves out his employment. Surprise, the employee agrees with the boss. Hey, the boss approves of the letter. Nobody has to mention any thing about their real role in life. All very chummy, all very funny, wink, wink, nod, nod. How clever we are… God, how I hate this stuff.

If Cox had any honor and any desire to be respected they would pull this guy down and hide him in a closet somewhere. But they do not. Because honor and truth aren’t in them. They are not interested in that stuff, no profit in it. They are just interested in winning by laying out a little more fear, uncertainty and doubt.

The next time you see a little piece of Cox propaganda remember that they can’t be trusted; they are just not honest. Caught in a lie they repeat the lie. It doesn’t matter to people like this.

The Vice President’s latest little piece of misinformation. HERE

The Vice President’s all-too-cute Blogger Profile. HERE

The Employee Letter and why it is hogwash. HERE

How we know that TJCrawdad is the vice president. HERE

How we know that letter writer is a Cox Employee. HERE

I have a hard time getting over stuff like this. Sleeze.

I’ve pretty obviously lost patience with these guys. I’ve discovered that I feel differently about different classes of liars. Some folks lie in order to get something and you can tell it bothers them because they trouble themselves to tell a good lie and to tell as few as possible. I really don’t like that but it doesn’t make the bile rise. You oppose those guys and watch ’em like hawks. Other folks lie becaues they want to put something over on you in order to take what they shouldn’t have. They’d like to feel a contempt for you because it makes them feel superior and in some twisted way justifies their deception. Those folks make my bile rise. Cox has managed to make my bile rise. – Small towns tired of slow rollout create own high-speed networks

My friend Skip Picou brought this USA Today story from yesterday’s paper to my attention.

Danville, Virginia, is bringing gigabit Ethernet to every home and business in their community using the same technology as that being deployed in Provo, Utah.

It’s a pretty comprehensive article, looking at the broader municipal fiber movement (including our friends in the Tri-Cities of Illinois) as well as the particulars of the Danville, VA, deal.

Viewed in this context, the still cooking LUS plan is part of a broad movement of municipalities to bring to their communities the 21st century infrastructure that private sector providers either can not or will not bring.

Broussard Mayor Redux

Feisty Mayor Langlinais of Broussard has entered the fiber fray again. In a letter published in today’s Advertiser the Mayor takes a critic to task for saying that telecom isn’t a utility that local governments should provide—and to set the record straight on the state of Broussard’s water problems. He reiterates his, and other local mayor’s hope that LUS will expand its service into the surrounding areas. The idea that local governments cooperate in that way was lent substrance by the story he recounts of the way Lafayette and Youngsville helped Broussard out during its water troubles. Its good to have friends.

One portion of Mayor Langlinais’s letter gives me a chance to help him out a bit. He says that he suspects the letter writer of having ties to Cox or BellSouth. He need suspect no longer: the writer, Steve Plukett, is indeed a Cox employee as I reported shortly after his letter appeared.

I’ve waited to post this today because I’d like to post a link to the Advertiser. One of the better things about the net is that you don’t have to take my word for what an online document says. You can go look at it yourself. But the letter refuses to show up. Now this is odd because the same thing happened the last time the good mayor stepped into our local fiber fray. His letter appeared in the print version but never made it online. Considering the spotty nature of the Advertiser’s site I have a hard time giving into any little paranoid fantasies. But really they ought to get more consistent with their updating.

But there is no reason to wait. In the interest of full documentation of the Lafayette Fiber Battle I’ve scanned the letter in for your reading pleasure:

Image of Broussard's Mayor's 2nd Letter