Wireless Repeal Up Today

Last week’s attempt to roll back the Local Government Fair Competition Act failed in committee. LaFonta is back today for another bite at the same apple. You can watch the process by logging into the House Commerce committeee hearing this morning at 9 from the link on the Legislature’s front page. (An icon will appear when the stream is live–this can be as much as 10 minutes after the scheduled hour, depending on how slowly the committee is brought to order.)

Last week’s version was structured as an indendent law that had the effect of repealing the law in relation to wireless technologies. This week’s version is set up as a straight exemption of the provisions of law in regard to wireless.

Expect to see the same faces and the same arguments at the table. Oddly, BellSouth did not appear to testify against the bill, leaving Cox and the Cable guys to carry their water. BellSouth has much more immediately at stake–they offer a version of paid wifi that they’d like to substitute for real landline service for some areas of the city and Cox has no WiFi product and no visible plans for one. BellSouth’s lobbyists are working the topic and BellSouth has consisitently opposed New Orleans on this issue. The most dramatic instance was when threats that it presumed were made in private were made public in the Washington Post. Granted it’s all been a real PR nightmare for BellSouth, so it is understandable that they’d not want to be upfront if they could manage it. But the real question is why Cox would carry water for BellSouth. Especially at this moment when doing so frees up BellSouth’s lobbying contingent to pursue a state-wide cable TV franchise bill that is aimed directly at Cox. LaFonta, the author of the repeal bill was reportedly furious at Cox and had not expected their opposition.

You gotta wonder: What’s the deal? You have to think that there is some horse-trading going on in the background.

Endless Lawsuits Part 24 [Update]

Update: The Advocate also has an article on yesterday’s court hearing. (It’s not available from the news page so I missed it until I sat down with the physical paper and a cup of coffee.) It’s a good bit more informative than the Advertiser’s brief. In this instance the clearer understanding of events only leads to a bit more confusion. As far as I can tell the judge isn’t fond of the fact that all either side care about is the issuance of the fiber bonds and are mostly ignoring the faux question of whether or not LUS is overcharging its owners that gives the class action lawyers their thin opening to challenge the bonds. Apparently the judge has stepped around the cases set up by both LCG and the class action suit lawyers and structured the proceedings to his own vision of what should happen next. –And what will happen next is more delay than people one either side believed would be possible based on the laws involved. Puzzeling…and frustrating.

Here, from the Advertiser article, is what you need to know:

In 2004, when the project first was proposed, city officials predicted LUS could offer all three services for lower rates than its competitors charged at the time. The project has yet to get off the ground. Competitors, including BellSouth and Cox Communications, have battled the city’s plans in the state Legislature, before the Louisiana Public Service Commission and in court.

The story, such as it is, is that Judge Rubin has told the LPUA–the governing body of LUS–to get on about the process of hearing the complaint.

This is all about trying to stop or drive up the cost of the sale of the bonds that will support the fiber build. –That bond sale is has NO logical connection to putative complaint. My guess is that this lawsuit, which began as a way to smear LUS during the fiber fight, has degenerated (if that is possible) into a pure extortion game. Eastin, Naquin and the bevy of lawyers probably want to get paid off for going away. That’s not uncommon in class action lawsuits.

Repeal!! In Nebraska

The Journal-Star in Lincoln, Nebraska discusses a study reporting to a state task force charged with finding a way to bring broadband to Nebraska.

The study’s chief conclusion is that the best way to get broadband to more of Nebraska is to allow Nebraska’s public electrical utilities and municipalities to get into the business. The study points out that the private providers have had more than a decade to provide competitive services and haven’t done so and that prohibiting local competitors puts Nebrasksa at a disadvantage.

That involves getting rid of a law that unduely constrains public competion.


They get it in Nebraska.

“Opponents: BellSouth is seeking unfair deal”

The Advertiser carries another article on BellSouth’s state-wided cable franchise bill. The event prompting the story is:

The battle goes behind closed doors today, when warring sides will meet privately with Sen. Ken Hollis, R-Metairie, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, who has invited the four major groups involved in the fight to a meeting to see if there is any common ground.

The telephone companies are on one side; joining the cable industry in opposition are the Louisiana Municipal Association and the Louisiana Police Jury Association.

The local government group and BellSouth/AT&T tried meeting before the hearing in the House Committee as well. It didn’t go well. BellSouth/AT&T was willing to compromise on a lot of issues that were not central and unwilling to compromise on things that were. The bill reported out of the House Committee was an odd creature: a bill that was extensively amended, ostensibly to please local government, that was implacably opposed by local government. The story gets the basis for local opposition at least partly right:

The police juries and cities have different reasons from cable operators for opposing the telephone companies. Local governments have two major issues: They want a requirement that the telephone companies would have to build out to every possible customer within their jurisdictions, and they do not want to lose control over the rights of way as they would under the legislation.

Those are the two related issues that were emphasized at the House hearings. But the Louisiana Municipal Association has also promoted two other reasons to oppose the law to its membership in a recent action alert. A third reasons to oppose the bill is that it is unnecessary–nothing stands in the way of BellSouth or any company getting a franchise now and providing competitive services. But the fourth reason is still not being talked about much publicly: BellSouth and it’s purchaser AT&T who will actually be the corporation to benefit from this law has put itself in the position to pay NO franchise fees. People are uncomfortable talking about it because to bring it up is to all but accuse BellSouth of lying and its allies in the legislature of being dupes.

Southern delicacy aside, for the people of this state, this is will be the big issue downstream. The gist of this matter–and the line of questioning that reporters and legislators should pursue–is whether AT&T/BellSouth:

1) Believes that its IPTV service (Project Lightspeed) is an information service? AT&T has repeatedly made the claim that it is.

2) Ask if it is true that the Federal government, in the guise of the FCC has forbidden any regulation of information services and forbidden local governments from, in any way–including franchise fees or buildout requirements–from having any influence over information services. (If they try and give you any guff on this ask if AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre didn’t claim as recently as two weeks ago in Detroit that IPTV was not subject to franchise rules because it wasn’t “cable TV.”)

3) Has AT&T/BellSouth ever paid a franchise fee anywhere based on it having served its IPTV cable TV “information service” to any community?

4) Whether the answer is no (as I believe it is) or yes:What obligates AT&T to pay Louisiana franchise fees given that the current bill explicitly exempts income from information services from franchise fees? Is there any legal mechanism by which BellSouth could be compelled to pay its franchise fees if its own definition of its IPTV services holds up in court? (At this point there will be fluff about a term in the bill called “video services” that is supposed to cover IPTV. Pay no attention. Stay focused on “information services,” federal regulations, the FCC’s exclusionary rules and the letter of the proposed law.)

5) For good measure ask: “Has AT&T ever, in any locale, no matter how densely populated or potentially profitable, ever been willing to compromise on its position that it is unwilling to offer its new cable-like services to the whole community in order to use the community’s property? When you get the answer “NO” –or more likely some mealy-mouthed hedge–ask: “Is avoiding build-out requirements the real point of this law? –Is AT&T/BellSouth willing to say anything in regard to fees, or other non-buildout franchise issues (since it has no plan to comply with them) in order to secure a state-wide exemption from the legal consequences of local property rights?” (Ok, number 5 is a rhetorical question. Ask it anyway. Sometimes we learn from the way people evade answering questions.)

John Hill appears to be the only reporter in the state that is covering BellSouth’s state-wide cable franchise bill. That’s extremely unfortunate. It ought to be a huge story and, even in this post-Hurricane milieu, we ought to be having a vigorous public debate. This is one of those issues for which reporters exist: they ought to be educating the public. If I am correct, and I really think I am, the consequenes of passing this law will be enormous in every town and city in the state when AT&T decides it is not obligated to pay local governments a penny. (At 3%–2% below the more common 5% maximum–cable franchise fees are a quarter of Lafayette’s budget. New Orleans gets 5 million dollars.) Any reporter that is on top of it will have a career-making set of stories to write.

As citizens we all have an obligation to contact our Senators and drive home the risk they will be taking if they approve this law. Call, write, and complain. Let you Senator know that a vote against Ellington’s bill, SB 386 is what you expect. Contact your Senator (find your Senator)

Dreaming; Your Network Desktop–and Community [updated]

Dreaming Dept.

Here’s a Sunday think project..play with CosmoPod, a free, remote desktop with a batch of nifty programs installed. At heart it’s a Linux remote desktop. As far as I can tell it consists of the remote desktop and apps, both located on a server, and a downloaded client to let you access “your” desktop. (KDE.news has a short interview with the devoloper that will fill you in on more details if you’d like them.) The downloaded client is a small cross-platform java app hooks you up to the online desktop regardless of your own computer’s OS. Play with it a bit. Devote a little time to thinking about how you could use this to improve your life–and how a community could use the same technology to make itself a better place to live.

The technology behind all this is apparently not too exotic in the Linux world and the designer of this website looks to be cobbling together readily-available, for-free pieces to achieve the effect.

Whether it works well or poorly right now the question it raises is profound:

Do you really need to have your own computer?

Really–the ultimate in low-cost computing is having NO computer. Do you want to travel light-weight and are still trying to get you laptop bag under five pounds? How ’bout no pounds? Interested in bridging the digital divide? There’s nothing like non-existent to beat even free. Really don’t like viruses–and even worse being afraid of viruses–messing up your machine. If you don’t have a machine it’s not your problem. Hate having to upgrade your software just to keep on being able to exchange documents with those who upgraded last week? Let somebody else worry about ensuring interoperability.

Store everything on the web. Apps, docs, everything. Access it all from whatever is to hand.

Why not?

Well I, for one, can think of a number of reasons. But most of them have to do with how I live with technology–and I’m not a typical user, either. With that caveat, here’s what I think would be really nifty: an environment where your basic apps and your important storage was both online and offline and kept synched up automatically. Different users could choose their own points on the continuum of use. Some wouldn’t own their own machine and would use public ones or friend’s machines to access their secure account. Their essential data and apps would reside online and, at some cost in convenience and accessibility they could have access to a complete computer environment for free or very close to that. Other users would work out sharing arrangements–with family or roommates typically–and store some material online and some off, depending on available connectivity and personal preference. Others still would use their online account mostly for backup and “emergency” use, keeping essential or ‘active’ docs backed up automatically. This class of user might only logon to use some “exotic” application that they don’t use often and can’t justify owning.

Such a setup could be marginally useful today–as CosmoPod seems to be. (Yes, everyone complains about the name.) To make the user-experience better you need raw speed, low-latency, storage capacity, and perhaps most importantly: ubiquity.

The speedier the connection the more you can do with it. A speed that would be enough for writing letters wouldn’t be anything like good enough to drive photoshop manipulations to the local screen. Everything is better with more speed. Related to speed is “low latency” which leads to things that applications are consistently and smoothly responsive–not slow sometimes and fast others. That’s best accomplished (IMHO) by simply having the server local so that data doesn’t have to hop all over the web in fragments to get to you. You also would need a lot of local on-network storage for documents. Ubiquity is more subtle and harder to accomplish. The ideal network service would be available whenever and wherever the user was and on whatever device he or she was using. Cell phones, wireless laptops, PDA’s, desktops, next generation iPod’s–whatever the device a person ought to be able to get to and alter the material in their account. Unless it was always available, even if in constrained ways, people wouldn’t be able to make the transition to trusting enough for most folks to change their behaviors. If something like this were available reliably enough I might quit my habit of carrying my laptop almost everywhere “just in case” I need it.

Long-time readers might be suspicious that I’m about to point out that Lafayette would be the ideal place to try this out. Such readers would be right.

With 1oo meg or faster insystem bandwidth every local user could have access to vastly beefed up version of the functionality of CosmoPod. With a wireless component integrated into the system the potential for making access truly ubiquitous in the city and available over the net from Breaux Bridge or Bangkok would be exciting. All the technical prerequisite are available or could easily be made available here.

But with the big portals like Yahoo or Google already drifting in this direction and with Web 2.o apps popping up all over its probably not all that apparent that it needs to be local. Frankly I’m not sure that it does need to be local. But I do suspect that it ought to be. It’s easy to be generous locally. Lafayette have bandwidth to burn internally–the incremental costs in terms of infrastructure would be limited to funding the server farm that drives it. A local version could be integrated into LUS telecom services more broadly. Your voice mail, calendar, video recording schedule, email, and much more could be easily accessed from this desktop. Local neighborhoods, schools, and churches could have calendars. Local neighborhood watches, the police, and events like Festival International and could have alerts. You could subscribe to any calendar or set up any alert to notify you directly. Catastrophic public safety alerts could go out on all “channels.”

The possibilities go on and on–and would do much enhance any community. The digital divide committee, way back when the fiber optic network was first being discussed, suggested a “super ISP” or portal that would leverage the speed and capacity of a locally owned fiber network to make computing inexpensive and to enhance the community. A few short years has made available technologies available that have transformed what was then vague and visionary into something that a determined cadre of tech types could snap together out of available parts. To repeat, the developer of CosmoPod appears to have done nothing more than bring together readily available parts, come up with a name and some graphics, and put ads down one side of the page in order to pay for it all.

The model that is emerging for such services when they are stand-alone commercial services is to pay for the free version with advertising and to make the more capable version/s available for a monthly fee. It remains to be seen whether this model will fly. But Lafayette need not be tied to the commercial model. The major portals like Yahoo and Google who are doing a version of this are not paying for them directly and there is no “super” version. These services are so cheap to deploy that the Portals are using them as loss leaders; as enhancements that build traffic. That’s smart business and getting people to put their valued content into Google or Yahoo’s mail or calendar program is arguably the smartest and cheapest way to build the value that is needed to keep folks coming around and making the companies money by their presence.

LUS could do a very similar thing to enhance the value of its upcoming product. Following Google it could offer a good, clean set of online apps and capacities. With its promised 100 megs of internal bandwidth to all users it has already moved past the biggest barrier to a robust setup: the differing speed of users and the very limited speed of some. By reducing the price people have to pay to get a full computing experience and by building a strong community-based ISP/Portal/Web Applications nexus that exploits its bandwidth advantage it could build a services strategy that its competitors simply could not match. Those services could be offered at an additional cost to LUS that would be trivial in comparison to the additional members the services would draw. Like any new entrant LUS will have to distinguish its product from the established ones and highlight its advantages. It’s hard to think of anything more appropriate for a publicly-owned utility to do than to leverage its advantages to lower the costs of entry and to enhance the community in which it operates.

We’re going to have something unique here. The key to its success it to take advantage of its unique capacities to build value for those who are once its owners and consumers: the citizens of Lafayette.

Update 12:10 5/22/06— I followed my own advice and played with CosmoPod thing this evening. I’m impressed! It’s a real desktop environment. You’re able to load open office, email, browsing, datebooks, calendars, etc. –the whole range of productivity tools in very sophisticated forms. There’s games and creative tools available as well. Anyone using this would have basic equity with folks using windows or mac office products and a buncha other “personal” type apps as well. (Cookbooks, photo organizers and the like.)

It’s not a “cheap” or less capable version of a “real” computer. It is, instead, the real thing. Arguably, it’s more capable than most folk’s “default” computers that they use with the apps provided by the manufacturer.

And it is free–and could be free and even more capable if we’d do something similar locally.

It is the final link in the digital divide conumdrum–with hardware costs dropping like a rock and already into the commodity range for new machines a person could have the capacity to runs such a system off a fast local network for very little. And once in wouldn’t have to update their local machine very often since all the real work would be done on the net. A second big cost is connectivity. That gets to be more than the machine costs very quickly. LUS as a public utility will take a big bite out of those ongoing connectivity costs–giving folks more for less. The last great barrier is the cost (and for many the hassle) of getting useful apps going and keeping them usefully updated. A remote desktop system like CosmoPod’s could kill that cost as well.

The costs of real participation could be driven into the ground.

And should be.

Georgia subsidizes Public Broadband

As municipalities in Louisiana fight to merely be allowed to build free wireless networks other states “get it” and are actually encouraging municipalities to get into the provision of wireless and other broadband networks. According to an AP story:

Georgia communities interested in establishing wireless, broadband networks can apply for state funding to help.


Separately, a state program is providing $5 million to rural communities seeking to establish any kind of broadband networks.

Now be aware that both Cox and BellSouth are headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Apparently the state of Georgia doesn’t think that private corporations alone are going to be sufficient to meet the needs of the people.

During her election campaign Governor Blanco promised to bring broadband to the whole state–but all we got was an industry-dominated broadband commission that, no surprise, has not been able to find much to do. If she really intends to do something she’ll have to stand up to the industry as Georgia’s Governor Perdue has apparently done. As a start she could back repealing laws that prevent local people from building their own networks using their own resources.

Georgia is actually doing something other than waiting around for others to act; we ought to do the same

Georgia grants for wireless communities
Georgia grants for all broadband

New Orleans to Partner with Microsoft

New Orleans is apparently in the midst of final negotiations on a vague but tantalizingly described deal with Microsoft.

From the outset it ought to be said that holding a press conference without your putative partners in order to announce a deal you’ve not yet signed off on is a bit unusual–and suspicious. There are at least two reasons for rushing the announcement. The most obvious is to give Nagin something to brag about in the last two days of the mayoral campaign. The less obvious reason is to metaphorically line up Microsoft with Earthlink as partners in a rebuilding plan that involves “free” or minimal cost contributions to new infrastructure that are dependent on New Orleans’ free, public, wireless network. New Orleans has to be hopeful that it can get the state to repeal the part of the law that prevents it from taking full advantage of such largesse. –Another bill concerning a legislative exemption for wireless networks is currently scheduled to be heard on Monday (the first didn’t make it out of committee.)

From the Times Picayune story:

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on Thursday announced a “new partnership” with computer giant Microsoft Corp. that he said will make public education, public safety and city finances more efficient by using Windows-based software developed for other cities around the country.

The part that is most likely to be interesting to folks outside of New Orleans is the digital divide and educational aspects of the partnership.

Nagin and his chief technology officer, Greg Meffert, said that part of the aim of the program is to close the ‘digital divide’ that separates rich and poor in New Orleans. The new technology, the mayor said, would be available to low-income families, who he said would pay $100 or less for a personal computer. They would access the Internet for free on a wireless wi-fi network the city is building.

As for the $100 computers, the mayor said such machines already exist. But Meffert noted that they’re not available “off the shelf.” Officials did not explain how low-income residents will be able to purchase one.

We’ve confronted a number of these issues in Lafayette–it’s not nearly as easy as it might seem. As far as $100 dollar PC goes it seems that Meffert and Nagin are conflating two projects that aren’t compatible. Microsoft’s version of a digital divide computer would cost more than $100 dollars while a version of a laptop from an MIT-backed consortium has a target price of about $100 but is committed to a Linux OS. (One story) Gates has been heard muttering darkly about it not being a capable enough computer and software stability. MIT’s Negraponte has fired back about proprietary software. There are also the dark horses. One set is network “thin clients” from the likes of Sun (recall the flurry about Sun during the referendum) or Linux-based computers with similar functionality (I’ve even thought Linux-based cable settop boxes could stand in for network-centric clients). Groups in both India and Brazil have put together low cost machines–the Indian one runs on a chip intended for cellphones. Long story short: A $100 per seat computer suitable for distribution and subsequent use over New Orleans is not yet available; the most likely candidate is MIT’s laptop but Microsoft wouldn’t be part of that deal.

It’ll be interesting to see how this story plays out. Stay tuned.

“Lafayette wants LUS suit dismissed”

An Advocate article this morning carries a brief review of the legal filings made in preparation for Monday’s hearings the Naquin-Eastin class action lawsuit.

The lawsuit is another in a series of lawsuits that seek to stand in the way of Lafayette issuing bonds in support of LUS’ fiber to the home project. Regardless of pretext preventing the bonds sale has been the central element in all these lawsuits.

With luck we’ll see a favorable decision on Lafayette’s arguments and the suit will be dismissed around June 1.

I think I’ll light a candle come Monday.

2theadvocate.com | News | Lafayette wants LUS suit dismissed

AT&T Speaks Plainly–In Michigan

AT&T is speaking plainly in Michigan and we will be making an enormous mistake if we don’t listen here in Louisiana.

BellSouth is currently ramming a state-wide franchise bill through the Lousiana legislature. It is doing so by issuing promises that it cannot keep and which its new owner, AT&T does not intend to keep.

No less than Ed Whitacre, AT&T CEO, told the nation plainly Monday that he doesn’t think he has to pay franchise fees regardless of what laws states and communities pass. Here is what he said in Detroit:

If Michigan doesn’t pass a new law, AT&T may begin delivering TV service anyway, Whitacre said after his speech, noting that Internet-based TV is not cable TV and therefore existing regulations don’t apply.

‘Could we just come in and do it? Sure,’ he said. ‘We’re still contemplating that. But we’d rather work within the system. We hope to make friends.’

So he doesn’t have to sign state–or national–franchises; he can do what he wants to do. The laws don’t apply to his company. He’s only agreeing to hand over to locals 5% off the top of his gross because he’s being nice and wants to make friends.

I don’t believe that. I don’t think anyone who watched the telecos manipulate the 1996 telecom act to neuter and then eliminate competition from CLECs like EATel does either. They’re not in it for nice. Whitacre is the last monopolist. He’s in it for control; for empire; to recreate, quite literally, the old AT&T monopoly.

In Michigan they are zeroing in on what Whitacre really wants–and it is not about being thought of well:

If bills pending in the Michigan legislature pass, AT&T and other cable providers would be able to get a statewide franchise that lets them decide which neighborhoods to serve. AT&T has told investors it plans to serve 90 percent of what it calls “high-value” customers and 5 percent of “low-value” customers.

Municipal officials fear that means low-income areas will be bypassed and that cable companies eventually will stop serving unprofitable neighborhoods. Existing local franchise agreements require Comcast Corp. and other providers to offer their services to everyone in a community.

Municipal officials don’t just “fear” their communities will be abused in this way. They know they being taken for ride–municipal officials across the country belong to national organizations and actually talk to each other. They know that AT&T brooks no compromise with local communities. They are hearing from their colleagues that AT&T is suing where locals assert that their laws apply and is being sued where they ignore local ordinances. In every venue what AT&T has refused to compromise on is what is called “build out requirements,” local requirements that would force them to serve all of the people of the community if they want to use the public’s rights of way. AT&T fully intends to keep its promises to its investors and it can’t do that unless it runs over local resistance.

AT&T intends to use any law it gets from the states to exempt it from having to follow local rules to serve all and to serve all at the same price. That’s what it’s all about.

It doesn’t matter a whit what outgoing BellSouth lobbyists and executives claim. Their AT&T overlords have spoken clearly.

The boys from BellSouth have been claiming in conference calls to local leaders, in committee hearings, and when they eat lunch with legislators is that the franchise bill they are pushing is merely a convenience for them. They are dangling a huge pot of money in front of people and suggest that they’ll serve almost everyone with shiny new systems.

It’s just not true and their AT&T overlords are willing to say so: Whitacre himself says they don’t have to get anyone’s permission. AT&T promises their investors that they’ll offer service to 90% of “high value” customers and only 5% of its “low value.” Low value customers spend $110 a month and less on telecom. What percentage of Louisiana’s users spends that much?

We need to stop listening to the BS puppets. Whitacre is telling us plainly: they’ll be no money and they’ll be no huge buildout. Not in Michigan and certainly not in much poorer Louisiana.

We’re being told clearly and plainly. We need to listen up. And we need to tell our legislature to junk this bill. This bill has already cleared the house. Contact your Senator (find your Senator) and let them know that you expect them to do the right thing here and preserve the local franchise.

New Cox, Same as the old Cox

A letter to the editor that I submitted about three weeks ago popped up in the Advertiser today. Back then (so long ago!) there were several active repeal bills in the legislature and Sharon Kleinpeter had had published a pretty seriously misleading letter that attempted to discredit LUS and present the (un)Fair Competition Act as, well, fair. She was ostensibly responding to an editorial by Terry Huval that focused on disaster preparedness and the potential for using “go zone” money available in the wake of the storms to build modern communications systems. (An editorial in support of repeal by the Advertiser, which presented a target that couldn’t be portrayed as self-interested, was conveniently ignored.) All that context has gotten forbiddingly distant.

At the time I posted an fuller objection to Kleinpeter’s letter that included my sources for claims I made about the accuracy of the letter. Here is today’s letter reworked to include similar references.

New Cox is the same as the old Cox

In a recent letter, Sharon Kleinpeter, a Cox official in Baton Rouge, sings a song that sounds like the old Cox. That Cox, you may recall all too well, raised Lafayette’s rates 49 percent between 2000 and 2004, commissioned misleading push-polls, sponsored a dishonest ‘academic forum’ that misled the public, dismissed the competence of Lafayette officials and sneered at our desire to have a state-of-the-art telecommunications network.

We’ve not seen any new price increases since LUS’ plan was announced, and most of the Cox officials who tried to scare us are now gone. This new letter, however, reawakens that old distrust.

Kleinpeter’s letter tries to convince us that repealing the (un)Fair Competition Act that has been used to block the fiber optic utility we approved last July would leave us open to ‘cross-subsidization’ problems that beset Bristol, Va. The trouble, as Ms. Kleinpeter knows or should know, is that Bristol was cleared of cross-subsidization charges a year ago. The electricity rate increases she tries to scare us with came about because an unusually good long-term contract with its electricity supplier expired. The increase merely brought Bristol’s rates up to the regional average and was unrelated to telecommunications. The truth is easy to find in Bristol’s local newspaper.

Cox should to stop trying to block repeal of a law that serves their interests – but not those of our community – and try building a relationship with Lafayette based on trust, not deception.

I still think Cox would be smarter to quit trying to impose special disadvantages on Lafayette and simply compete. The “poor pitiful me” routine doesn’t work when the purveyor is obviously one of the biggest bullies on the block.