Action Alert: Blanco Considers 699 Veto!

The Advocate reports, in a staff-filed brief, that Governor Blanco is considering not signing off on HB 699, BellSouth’s state-wide franchise bill. The conference committee amended bill was given final approval yesterday, the last day of the session.

Even the possibility of a veto is exciting and surprising. Get out your phones and call the governors office (1-866.310.7617) to ask that the governor not sign onto a bill that strips local governments of their right to control its local property.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Monday she has not decided whether to sign legislation that would allow telecommunications companies to get a statewide franchise to provide television service

“Local communities are asking me to take a second look,” she said.

The proposed law is classically bad legislation. It is offered by a single well-heeled special interest, BellSouth, and favors BellSouth’s business interests in opposition to the best interests of local people and local communities.

While the first and most basic reason to oppose the bill is that it involves the state in legislating in favor of the business plan of a single lobbyist-rich corporation the really important issue is the way that the bill strips local governments of the tool that it has always used to force any corporation that wants to use community property to offer service to all at the same price. HB 699 explicitly forbids local governments to make such “build-out” requirements. It is the rural areas of parishes and the poorer areas of cities and towns that will inevitably be judged not good enough to serve with modern phone, TV, and internet services. Local governments have long been the only level of government willing to stand up to the powerful telecom lobbies and demand service for all–this bill strips local people of that last defense.

This might be a moment when Blanco would be able to hear Louisiana citizens and some home-town voices. Help give her an excuse to block this bill.

Toll-free: 1-866.310.7617 (update: I’ve been told that @ 11:00 nobody is picking up. Try it first but be prepared to whip out your cell and call the alternate number.)
Alternate: (225) 342-0991 (Nice lady answers the phone and takes your brief message.)
Fax: (225) 342-7099
Web-based email: Email the Governor
(update: the webmail script does not appear to execute correctly on my setup–it certainly doesn’t complete; the embedded email address is: –it would probably be wiser to use that than to trust the webmail form.)

And when you finish encourage your friends to do the same.

Thought of the day

An excellent overview of the net neutrality debate and the history behind it was published in the San Francisco Chronicle. The overview is well worth the read.

But what really captured this reader’s attention was the final point:

But as the Senate weighs whether or how to intervene on net neutrality, Andrew Odlyzko, a former Bell Laboratories scientist who now directs the University of Minnesota’s Digital Technology Center, noted that the last time network expansion was driven solely by the market, things did not turn out so well. The irony, he said, is that we might not be having this debate if corporations had not overinvested in backbone expansion in the 1990s.

‘The largely wasted investment in long-haul fiber during the bubble was about $100 billion,” he said. ‘If you took that hundred billion, that would probably be enough to pay for fiber-to-the-home for two-thirds of the United States.’

Some too-big corporations made some lousy business decisions. And now the biggest of them want us to bail them out by allowing them find new revenue sources by killing net neutrality. Let’s not reward incompetence.

The Orange $100 Laptop

Dreaming Dept.

Here’s something to think about on a cloudy Sunday morning: A great, cheap laptop for the world’s kids. The latest iteration of the “One Laptop per Child Project” is an orange plastic laptop with stubby bunny ears and a big handle. (Image @ left is from the OPLC website). Target price is $100 dollars or less and the target audience is third world kids who’d otherwise never have access to the technology. The project originated as the brainchild of Nicholas Negreponte, the head of the MIT Media Lab, an interesting institution in its own right. The project has gathered a wide range of advocates and participants who have designed and developed it using the classic open source model.

The not-for-profit collaboration is a great example of what might be possible if people decide to push for what’s possible and valuable about new technologies without getting to involved with what makes for big profits.

The developers are having a lot of fun building in sensible features that commercial developers don’t see how they can make money off–and hence haven’t pursued. They’re looking at new-style screens that have both color and a black and white, low power, readable in the sunlight, e-book mode. Each one will be capable of participating together a “spontaneous” mesh WiFi network. The screen swivels to show your neighbors what’s going on, and folds down for use as a tablet or e-book. There’s no hard drive–only flash memory. It is being put together to making hardware hacking easy and it’s built on an all open-source basis. The list could go on–and interested readers are encouraged to dig in and fantasize about what they are their community could do with such a device at a $100 price point.

You have to think that an off-shoot of this project would make a great addition to American schools. As a former teacher and ed tech prof I can say with fair confidence that one of the major reasons that newer technologies aren’t integrated into US schools is that no teacher can assume their students have ready access to the technologies involved. Something like this is cheap enough and useful enough to be worth making truly ubiquitous–and that would allow free teachers to make really creative use of information technologies.

And yes, as always, Lafayette will make a good place to start. The missing piece in this equation so far is net connectivity and adequate bandwidth to supply the implied large percentage of users in a population. Much of what anyone would want to do or teach is web-based. It’s easy to see how that ubiquitous connectivity to such laptops for kids could be supplied in Lafayette as part of the school system–if we chose to exert our imagination and efforts in that direction.

State Cable Franchise Law Conference Amendments

HB 699, the state-wide cable franchise law, went to conference and emerged with yet another set of amendments. They don’t make any fundamental changes in what will be a very bad law when it passes on the hurried last day of the legislative session.

This bill has been a lesson in the intricacies of legislative procedure. The bill originated in the House (hence “HB”) and was heavily amended in committee. It was further amended in the Senate. The House chose to reject the version with the Senate amendments and so it went to a conference committee made up of three members of each house. That group, å with pro-BellSouth legislators, came up with a further amended bill which goes before both bodies for an up or down vote–no floor amendments are allowed. So we are now at the last moment with what is finally, after more than a 130 amendments, a final bill.

There’s the good, the bad, and the mixed in these last changes.

From a purely local point of view the most feared product of a conference was avoided: the revised bill preserves Mike Michot’s single-letter amendment that sponsors hope will allow Lafayette to join the roster of cities that are exempted from the worst effects of the law.

Several other amendments, reportedly urged by the DOTD, preserve the ability of the state’s road-builders to set engineering standards and issue permits. One small clause seems to also preserve some similar authority for local governments by restricting the removal of local government’s rights to set standards on the use of its property to build-out requirements only. Build-out refers to the practice of local governments of requiring any company that wants to use the public’s property to provide their services to the whole of the public. (This law is really mostly motivated by BellSouth’s desire to remove that single requirement.) The part in red shows how that amendment alters the proposed law:

No franchising authority, state agency, or political subdivision of the statemay impose any build-out requirements for construction of a cable system or wireline facilities used to distribute video programming services or for cable or video service deployment on a holder of a certificate.

That is worth focusing on for a minute. A bill passes both houses of the legislature which strips both the state and local communities of any ability to set any standards–engineering, location in right of way, depth, place and nature of pole attachments, etcetera on how a corporation thinks its use of public property would best serve its profit and nobody understands that leaving the corporation free to do anything it wants is not a good idea?! The only place it is caught and fixed is at the very last minute when someone from the DOTD perks up and notices that, hey, this is just crazy and would give telecoms and only telecoms the right to “cherry-pick” all the best locations in the right of way and run over all other providers who have to abide by rational rules? It’s stuff like this–more than big cases of obvious corruption–that should give citizens pause about their government. It’s clear that the only way that something so wrong-headed as this can pass over the complaints of local officials is if the legislators have a servile confidence in the idea that anything a big corporation wants to do is “right” and mindlessly agree with corporations that any objection by local governments is just a self-interested smokescreen. The presumption should be precisely the opposite. Corporations are happy to admit their self-interest and local government officials are in that office precisely because their citizens trusted their judgment. That we have a legislature that doesn’t even need to be bought to sell-out local communities in this way is more appalling than if we saw checks being handed out the floor of the state legislature again. (Notice, please, that state government is still all about roads–those that build them and say which projects are feasible and worthy and which not still trump even BellSouth. What has changed is that the united opposition of cities, towns, and police juries no longer does.)

On the downside another amendment seems to limit the ability to get any fees at all for the use of rights-of-way by telecom corporations to local governments. Meaning that state governments can’t charge such fees. That’s not much of an issue now, since federal law prohibits such. But since the 1996 telecommunications act is up for revision maybe some forward-looking BellSouth lawyer is worried that the prohibition might be abolished.

I expect that this bill will pass in one of those periods when the speaker or a surrogate gets up and in his best rapid fire, sing-song auctioneer’s voice calls out the bare title of the bill, its status, and calls for a vote–“selling” bill after bill as rapidly as possible.

This time what is being sold out is the people of the state.

This bill, even after endless amendments, preserves the basic defect it began with: It is a bill written to satisfy the desires of essentially one company, BellSouth, to profit off the use of public property without taking on any responsibility to serve all that own the property it wants to use. By prohibiting such “build-out” requirements the law makes it certain that no company in the future will feel obligated to serve any but the most profitable with new services and makes it state policy to discriminate against rural and poor citizens. There’s a laundry-list of other serious problems, any one of which would probably sink a bill backed by anyone other than BellSouth, but it all comes down to that single “taking” of public property for private profit.

You can still tell your legislators you think they should vote against this travesty and demand a roll-call vote on this legislation. Or even engage in a little slowdown that might leave the ill-begotten thing on the table as the session ends. They ought to at least know that someone out there watching. (Find your legislators, Represenatives’ addresses, Senators’ addresses)

Advertiser TV-Media Converges!

Anybody else notice the Advertiser video on the Hundley affair this morning? Yep, the Advertiser is offering us “TV.” Advertiser Online Editor Bill Decker has posted a very straightforward news video on the web–one that actually has some pretty interesting “news” in it that isn’t available in the written story.

It’s all part of a larger movement toward digital convergence. The fact that almost everything these days is encoded into a sort of digital lingua franca means that media once restricted to one media–like broadcast TV or Radio or Newspapers– can show up almost anywhere.

If you’re living pretty solidly on the web a lot of this has crept up on you slowly. We’re used to seeing little stories that look like news briefs in the newspapers on the the TV stations KATC and KLFY. We’re not surprised to see fragments of the newscasts available as downloadble video on those same sites. Over in Baton Rouge the Manship family owns both the daily and WBRZ so they’ve always gestured toward a mixed media website though I notice that integration has picked up recently with more TV originated content showing up on the news portal. AOC, our own community access channel, has had classes in podcasting and is talking about a download portal as it recognizes the world shifting around it–and away from the classic broadcast model of shows in regular slots on a defined channel. (A model that never worked very well for community television anyway.) Some AOC shows are already found resident on the web–like the “Meet the Democrats” interview and news show.

Today’s Hundley video is part of the Advertiser’s tentative-feeling foray into fuller on-line participation. So far they’ve been putting up blogs, questionable discussion groups, some podcasts, and occasional web-only features. They pretty clearly know that something is going on out there and that they’d better get aboard. Just as clearly they’re not quite sure what it is or what to do with it. That’s true of the media (and not just locally).

We’re seeing an evolutionary process at work. One of these days we’ll wake up and drink our cuppa Community (ok, or Mello Joy) and be reading the news just like always. And it will take us several minutes of discussion with our significant other to decide just when it was that we quit bringing the newspaper to the table in order to read the news. The process is under way at our house. At least once a week one of us brings the laptop to the table. (Morning always starts off with the download of email and quick online news check of stories we are following; so the laptop is up and running already.)

Folks would be well repaid to pay close attention to how this more open and diverse information-gathering actually works. Online readers don’t limit themselves to one source at a time–the paper or the TV channel. Instead they follow stories into whatever media or source they need jumping, for instance, from a reference to a story about wetlands to an encyclopedia entry on a technical topic, to googling the names of scientists mentioned. You might zip over to a specialty blog or click through to a discussion group that is likely to deal with the story in a more sophisticated way. Most significantly, if the story is one you know a friend would be interested in, you can also send them a comment or question along with a link. People are starting to be a lot more diverse in their information sources and more actively reactive about what they read. It feels a lot different that just reading the newspaper or passively watching even the best TV shows.

Once you’ve gotten started directing your own inquiry about a topic instead of letting others do it for you it will be hard to go back. Nobody will “own” the reader or viewer even for a short while. Portal sites or attempts at walled garden’s where everything is gathered in one place are doomed, in my humble opinion. A web presence will need to be designed to be an attractive node that people want to go to often. Trying to hold people there will only make the flighty new reader fly off. Understanding that you shouldn’t be trying to hold onto the user will be awfully hard–it flies in the face of how all current media is designed. It should be interesting to watch in our little local laboratory.

That fabled media “convergence” you hear about–it’s coming to Lafayette. Fitfully, and maybe a little early as we anticipate our community-owned fiber optic network. Hopefully local institutions will be doing especially interesting things.

Stay tuned.

Flash: HB 699 Goes To Conference Comittee

Just a fast update. HB 699 was heard and the Senate amendments rejected. It is hard at this moment to say what that will mean for the state or Lafayette. The floor vote doesn’t give much of a clue since no one voted to accept the amendments.

It has to mean that BellSouth-soon-to-be-AT&T isn’t satisfied that it’s got everything it wanted out of the bill and thinks it can squeeze a bit more. That is unlikely to mean anything good for Lafayette or for the State.

Having rammed the bill through it is possible that BellSouth just has something else it wants to sneak in or, more likely, that it wants to strip out at least some of the Senate amendments and thinks it has the muscle to force the Senate to back down.

One of those amendments would have built a better case for Lafayette being having a pre-74 status that makes the changes the bill enforces less immediate. It would let Lafayette keep its current cable franchise intact for instance. Cox might not like that.

Another Senate amendment concerning private owners and rights of way is, we are told, similar to the one that Michot offered in Senate committee. That one, the pro-BellSouth commerce committee chair Pinac said would “gut” the bill. That was not the prevailing sentiment on the floor of the senate where the sponsor had a hard time saying what was wrong with it. Frankly, upon reading it, it seems more favorable to BellSouth than not.

The whole thing has to be done by 6 pm on June the 19th–next Monday. The Senate conferees have already been appointed. In the best of all possible worlds the bill would die in conference. But I wouldn’t bet on it. Once it comes out of committee both the house and the Senate will have to vote again.

[Update–The Advertiser has posted an informative brief:

The intent of the action is not to change Senate amendments, but to address an issue raised at the last moment by the state Department of Transportation and Development, said Rep. Billy Montgomery, D-Haughton.

The issue concerns DOTD rights-of-way over private property and require a technical change in the bill, he said. But with overwhelming support in the House and Senate, a compromise version should be approved before the Legislature must adjourn at 6 p.m. Monday.

Apparently the move to a conference committee is based on the right of way issue discussed above. Exactly what the DOTD wants addressed and whether the committee will restrain itself to that issue remains to be seen.]

Commentary on Endless Lawsuits parts 29-33

Kevin Blanchard has a commentary piece in the Advocate this morning, trying and mostly failing to make sense of the mess of lawsuits filed against Lafayette.

There are probably 3 or 4 points to be made: 1) itsa mess. 2) it’s nothing new, 3) a nice chunk of the delay is due to Judge Rubin, 4) it’s costing us money.

There are some nice highpoints:

If the latest slew of legal filings surrounding Lafayette Utilities System’s funding of its planned communications business seems confusing, that’s because it is — sometimes even to lawyers handling the matters.


Rubin’s sending the case to the authority was not something either party in the case had asked for and appeared to take each side by surprise.

The plaintiffs’ appealed the authority’s ruling to a separate judge. Another judge is hearing an appeal of the plaintiffs’ complaint that LUS overcharges for electricity.

The 3rd Circuit will decide an appeal from the same plaintiffs on a mostly procedural matter decided by yet another 15th Judicial District judge.

Lafayette’s attorneys have argued this mish-mash of filings and judges and appeals is exactly what the Legislature was trying to avoid when it enacted the bond validation statutes.

It’s getting to be a tired story. Folks are frustrated and vaugely angry.

The proper target of their anger is BellSouth and Cox. If the two corporations would back off and acknowledge the outcome of a referendum they demanded this could all be over. –No one is deceived by the “front” lawsuits that don’t bear their names. (Except, possibly, LCG.) The history of the lawsuits and they way they were completely dependent on incumbent filings initially makes that plain.

Attempting to thwart the express will of the people ought to be enough to excite citizens to anger. If that’s not enough the fact that these delays are intended to cost the community money is a legitimate part of the story. As the story correctly notes this is costing us money in legal fees and in (and this is the main point) interest rates that have risen in the neighborhood of two points since the legal obstructionism took hold. Put that on 125 million over 25 years and you are talking, oh…really a lot of money.

Blanchard notes at the end of the story that Lafayette’s legal fees will eventually be paid by the citizens…sure. But he fails to note that the incumbents costs will be borne by the ratepayers as well. That’s what makes this more obscene (were that possible): we’ll be billed by these guys to cover their expenses incurred to raise our rates and frustrate or democratically expressed will. Geez. There oughta be a law.

I’m looking for a new cellular service provider today. I think maybe Sprint, though Verizon gets good reviews too. Advice?

TheInd on BellSouth’s Law

This week’s Independent picks up the story of BellSouth’s state-wide cable franchise law just as it is about to come to a close. (The bill is on the House agenda today and the Senate-amended version should be voted on there by the end of the week at the latest.)

The story is pretty good as far as it goes. The quotes from local leaders are great, for instance with Don Cravins, the senator who gave a great speech on Senate floor, complaining that it shouldn’t be a hardship for a company of the size of AT&T to negotiate with municipalities:

“I think a multinational company should have the means to do that,” said Cravins, who is now also running for mayor of Opelousas. “It doesn’t matter how you couch it, this is an AT&T multi-national conglomerate bill that is ultimately going to Wal-Mart the entire cable industry in Louisiana.”


Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel concurs with Cravins. “What I keep saying,” Durel says, “is that people trust local government more than they trust state government, just like they trust state government more than they trust the federal government. And so once again the state government has chosen to get involved in local policy, and this will ultimately have a negative effect on local government, which will obviously have a negative effect on the people that we try to serve.”

Based on Lafayette’s own contentious history with BellSouth, where the company has repeatedly sued the city in order to block Lafayette Utilities System’s efforts to get involved in the phone, Internet and cable business, Durel is wary of the company’s intentions.

“We kept hearing for the past two years: level playing field,” Durel says, “and now what you’re seeing is the huge conglomerates trying to not play on a level playing field with each other.”

Durel is right, of course, as with the Local Government (un)Fair Competition Act, the real purpose is to make sure that the incumbent monopolists have an unfair advantage over any possible competition. Read the story and you’ll see that getting services out speedily and having parity with the cable companies have nothing to do with: the local governments offered to make sure that the phone companies could compete within 30 days of expressing a desire–all they had to do was accept the same contract conditions that the local cable company was already operating under. NO way said BellSouth/AT&T. The real story here is about eliminating the “irritant” of local governments who demand that all be served if a company is going to use community property. It’s irritating when the owners of property all ask to be served if what you want is to use their property to only serve the most profitable. It’s irritating to be held accountable by all those little police jurors and city councilmen if you don’t live up to your agreements (its much easier to snooker state or federal legislators as history clearly shows). BellSouth can now decided to serve once side of street but not the other, to serve River Ranch but not North Lafayette, to run lines to fancy new subdivisions but let other areas they pass over on the way to those glitzy new places wait forever while they pump up their profits while using public property.

There’s nothing in the new law–as there are in current cable contracts–that would force BellSouth/AT&T to charge the residents of different areas of town differently for the same service. The companies could conceivably ask for block by block “state franchises” and charge whatever they thought would be to their advantage. Nothing legal prevents them from offering different prices where they have competition than across the street where they don’t. Welcome to a “level playing field” and the benefits of competition.

Since cable, in the end, got themselves written into the law (on dubious constitutional grounds) they’ll have the same privileges. State law now lets cable companies (and only cable companies) break their contracts with communities whenever they want. Over time you’ll see the same discrimination shown by Cox — just as soon as it becomes more profitable to use their upgrade money elsewhere they’ll be free to abandon the poorer parts of communities. Note that it won’t necessarily be that those areas will be unprofitable–only that it will be more profitable to move their money to a higher yield area.

Can you say “digital divide?” I knew you could.

Durel’s remarks close the story. He’s got a point about Lafayette. But there will be real suffering in the rest of the state.

Durel hopes it will ultimately be a moot issue. He says once LUS begins offering its telecommunications package (the plan is currently tied up in lawsuits brought by two Lafayette residents), it won’t matter how the incumbent cable and telephone companies are delivering their services.

“Our technology,” Durel says, “is going to be so far superior to what either one of the companies has to offer that we are going to be the competition.”

GameCamp is back!

GameCamp is back! The Advertiser has a nice article on it this morning.

Kids itching to get a feel for the video game industry can rejoice – GameCamp! is returning to the University of Louisiana on July 9-16.

For the second year, GameCamp! will educate kids on the inner workings of the video game industry through experienced guest speakers and hands-on development.

Gaming is serious business as well as serious fun. Some estimates have the game market worth more than the movie market these days and with Lafayette is uniquely positioned to take advantage of an industry that is still coming together.

Last year, GameCamp! media consultant and Lafayette native Joe Castille pitched his hometown as a potential host city to Zuzolo. After one visit, the president decided GameCamp! could form quite a symbiotic relationship with the city.

“Lafayette is like a mini-Austin,” Castille said. “There’s all this incredible culture, there’s great nightlife, they’re trying to do something with fiber and there’s a good body of tech-savvy people.”

I’m not all that thrilled at being compared to Austin. (Have you been to Austin recently?) But I do understand the point being made: Lafayette’s got a lot going for it–these days you’ve got to have both the culture and the technology to make a place attractive to creative types. Lafayette has a shot a developing a real industry nucleus.

If you know a kid that would like to get into this — and its hard to find kids today that wouldn’t–I understand they’ve still got a few slots they’re willing to fill. At least that’s what a casual conversation with Joe Castille at a local coffee shop over the weekend revealed. It should be a great experience.

You can get more info at:




AT&T’s Project Lightspeed: Bolshoi ain’t just a Russian ballet company

The Los Angeles Times takes a closer look at AT&T’s much ballyhooed Project Lightspeed — the project that AT&T and BellSouth are using to justify eliminating local franchise laws in Louisiana.

What a scam!

Let’s go to the core issue of the technology:

But industry analysts are skeptical about the network, dubbed Project Lightspeed, and the TV service, called U-verse.

“This is a complicated product launch on a scale that is pretty much unprecedented,” said analyst Adi Kishore of the Yankee Group research firm in Boston. “They’re going to have problems, especially given the relatively tight time frame to get things done.”

Experts question the wisdom of creating a network that’s likely to be technologically out of date by the time it’s complete. Lightspeed is designed to send data at an average of 25 megabits per second by extending high-capacity fiber optic lines to within 3,000 feet of homes. To cover the remaining distance, AT&T plans to rely on new DSL gear to send data humming over existing copper lines.

OK, so it’s obsolete technology that is going to cost AT&T something in the neighborhood of $5 Billion to deploy.

And what might consumers get (at least those customers of AT&T/BellSouth that might actually see Lightspeed deployed)?

AT&T won’t reveal its TV package prices yet. But Internet information company Broadband Reports said users of its online forums learned that the basic bundle of 170-channel TV service plus 1.5-megabit-per-second Internet access would cost $85 a month. The top tier of more than 200 channels with 6-megabit-per-second access would cost $114 a month.

That deal loses to Cox right now. It’ll won’t pose any threat to whatever the package LUS brings to market next year (yes, that’s a prediction).

But, might that be a good deal in other parts of the state and, thus, justify ripping out the local franchise laws? Well, it might be, but Lightspeed is probably not coming to Louisiana — or, if it is, it’s only going to faster growing places like Baton Rouge and maybe Shreveport and St. Tammany Parish.


Well, as John has spent a good bit of effort trying to explain, Lightspeed represents the ultimate cherry-pick by AT&T. That is, the company only figures to bring Lightspeed to about 50 percent of their existing customer base:

AT&T’s strategy is to bring Lightspeed to 19 million homes in 41 of its markets by the end of 2008 — a little more than half the homes in its 13-state territory, including California. The rollout is expected to cost $4.6 billion. Other customers can get Homezone, a combination of satellite TV and high-speed Internet access, which will be available in the next few months.

Now, the deal is that Louisiana is not a fast growing market. We’ve been one of the slow growth markets in BellSouth’s nine-state service area. Once the purchase of BellSouth by AT&T closes, we’ll be a slow growth market in AT&T’s 22-state market.

Bottom line: the DirecTV/DSL combo that BellSouth offers now is going to be the dominant package offered by AT&T in Louisiana after this deal closes — regardless of what BellSouth’s lobbyists are saying in the Legislature.

So, why are legislators ignoring the facts and buying into the BellSouth/AT&T B.S.? A lobbyist for the Police Jury Association of Louisiana quotes one lawmaker as explaining it this way: “False hope is better than no hope at all.”

That is, BellSouth may well be lying to legislators, but the prospect of relief from high cable bills is worth the risk. And it is based on that reasoning that the Legislature is preparing to make the Digital Divide the official policy of the State of Louisiana.