Larry Amy Still Wrong

Larry Amy is back at it again. Connoisseurs of the fiber fight will recall Amy’s time on the stage during the anti-fiber fight. In a series of letters mostly found in the Independent Amy started out a simple ideological opponent of the plan (expressing the idea that fiber is good but private corporations should control it) but rapidly matured into a proponent of wireless who dismissed fiber as unexciting and embraced wireless as a cheaper alternative. Mike Stagg, a principle on these pages, responded in the Independent to the later-stage Amy claims about LUS’ fiber plan. Readers who’d like a little refresher on that basic argument of fiber vs. wireless are referred back to Mike’s essay.

The ongoing problem with Amy’s various analyses is that he wants his reader to believe his opinion is based on technical rationales rather than his ideological position. There’s nothing wrong with having ideologically-based judgments on political issues–unless those commitments lead you to misrepresent the evidence you place before the community.

In this case it is simply untrue that the chief problem with LUS’ fiber that the business plan is not viable. The evidence is overwhelming that the fiber plan will be successful–not based on what its proponents say but on the level of panic displayed by BellSouth and Cox who have, at each and every turn, opposed the plan and when they failed taken action to delay the plan’s implementation and have pursued laws, regulations, and lawsuits designed chiefly to drive up the costs to local citizens who purchase LUS’ product. If you have any doubt as to the financial
viability of Lafayette’s plan you have only to look at how the specter of competition from LUS has driven to blood-enemies into an alliance to oppose the express will of the community.

That’s proof I think anyone not blinded by ideology could understand.

As to Amy’s return to the theme of “wireless is the wave of the future:” he’s missed the mark. Big Broadband is the wave of the future. Really big broadband at 100 meg to a gig or more. It will enable astonishingly cheap “downloadable” high definition “TV,” telephony that you will hardly recognize as it integrates itself into all sorts of appliances and, most significantly for the present discussion, wireless mobility. It remains uncertain whether WiFi, WiMax, or some form of cellular 3G will dominate in that wireless space. What is certain is that if it is to be available to the whole community with even the bandwidth capacity of current wired services–say 5 or 6 megs–it will have to be funded by a dense fiber network.

We need to build the crucial technology, fiber, first. Wireless built on top of a real broadband network will be not only cheaper but vastly more useful.

The fiber fight, appears to be heating up again, at least in letters to the editor. It’s worth noticing that the arguments against are the same that failed to convince Lafayette before the election.

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