[Please note: this was originally posted on April 1st.]
In a surprise move this morning BellSouth, Cox Communications, and representatives of Fiber411 called a press conference to announce that they will not actively oppose the passage of a July 16th vote on a bond issue to fund an LUS/City plan to build a fiber optic network to supply advanced communications services to the doorstep of every home in the city.
The two corporations issued separate press releases and Fiber411 issued three individual statements. The gist seems to be that with virtual unanimity among civic and political organizations in favor of the plan and with the issue holding at a steady 75 to 80% approval rating in a recent series of Kennedy polls, the opponents have decided that a local battle would not be in their long-term best interests.
Quick Clips from the Press Releases.
BellSouth, over the signature of Bill Oliver:
While still confident that this experiment is both unnecessary and unwise, BellSouth recognizes that the people of Lafayette have an absolute right to determine their own future. It is clear that the people of this community, whatever their reasons, have spoken and that to further actively oppose this plan would be counterproductive. As a good corporate citizen we can only hope that Lafayette will prosper as a result of this project and that we, even with reduced profit margins, will enjoy the benefits of new local growth and development…
Cox, over the signature of Gary Cassard:
Cox Communications has always been in favor of fair and healthy competition on a level playing field and we are now confident that state regulatory bodies will correctly interpret the Municipal Fair Competition Act (Act 793) in a way that will allow us to continue to charge a reasonable and fair price by disallowing any attempt by LUS to undercut our prices. Consequently we will not campaign against the plan before the people. We plan an aggressive rollout of new high end pay-for-view and adult channels to preserve our local market share. We have constructed a new website, Let the People View, and urge the people to use its facilities to email letters supporting the people’s “right to view” to their local councilmen…
(While press releases for all three principals of Fiber411 were announced, the ones for Neal Breakfield and Bill Leblanc were nowhere to be found. Tim Supple’s statement is by for the most surprising—and the most heart-felt—of the three available announcements. It is reproduced in full.)
Following meetings with members of the Chamber of Commerce and a 20-minute discussion with Doug Menefee on Ray Greens’s show, I have come to realize that my profiber hopes for Lafayette, and the pro-development and pro-progress position I have always taken, can be best realized by supporting LUS and the City of Lafayette in this venture.
I have always been in favor of fiber for the home in Lafayette and remain concerned about the projected cost and the thinness of the publicly-announced business plan. However, it has become increasingly obvious to me that my hopes that a private entity will step in and provide Lafayette with what she needs in the face of more lucrative opportunities in larger communities was misplaced. If we are to have fiber we must do it for ourselves.
Similarly, a key concern of mine has been that LUS provide a system that was open for competition by many providers. What was not clear (and I urge LUS to publicize this point more clearly) is that by pledging to leave IP services open and ports unblocked, the LUS system will be more open to competition from day one than its competitors and will naturally become more and more open as the traditional phone and cable models atrophy. Additionally it is painfully clear upon reflection that no one expects any private provider to open its systems to competition and that supporting a private solution to the ownership of the fiber is to support the establishment of a virtually unbreakable monopoly which would eventually demand offensive levels of regulation. LUS, in contrast, can be locally monitored and controlled to ensure that it provides an avenue for fair competition. I pledge myself to being that watchdog!
For these reasons I urge all our citizens to support LUS and its plan to advance the future of our community.
Honestly: I am stunned and impressed. I never thought I’d see the day.